Install a Shower Timer, Save Thousands of Gallons of Water

published Mar 3, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Did you know that reducing your daily shower time by a single minute will save a whopping thousand gallons of water in a year? Installing a shower timer in your bathroom is the easiest way to keep track of your time spent under the water. We’ve collected some of the best on the market, and shared them along with some water-saving tips below.

According to the EPA, Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water each day. A shower uses 2.5 gallons per minute, and the average shower time lasts 8 minutes — a full fifth of the average daily water usage. Total time increases for in-shower activities like shaving legs, or simply daydreaming (and who doesn’t get their best ideas while in the shower).

Reducing your shower length even a minute puts a huge dent in that number (not to mention your water and heating bills), and cutting in-shower time to the recommended 5 minutes would mean saving nearly three thousand gallons of water per year. Here are some tips to help you (ahem) clean up your act.

1. Time yourself in the shower (and while brushing your teeth!)
How long do you typically spend in the shower? Try setting an egg timer or the timer on your phone, and measure yourself honestly. You might be surprised — it’s easy to loose track of the time. And if you take a bath, that’s about 50 gallons of water (the equivalent of a 20 minute shower).

2. Calculate your total daily water usage.
Enter your details at this site to see the many ways in which a household consumes water.

3. Look for ways to reduce.
Experts recommend cutting your shower time to a mere 5 minutes. It doesn’t sound like much, but it gives plenty of time to get clean, and even wash your hair.

The best way to manage this is to install a shower timer. These come in several styles, from the low tech sand timer to the high tech atomic clock. Check ’em out:

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The Zelco Aquatime Rope Clock ($21) hangs on a 12-inch rope, is water-resistant and keeps time with a second hand. Useful if suction cups tend to not stick to your shower, since that’s what most models use.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This Atomic Bathroom Digital Alarm Clock With suction cup ($16.23) does what it says on the tin — it mounts to the wall with a suction cup, and sets its time automatically from the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado. Claims to be “accurate to 1 second every 60 million years.”

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The Shower Clock Timer by Nrg ideas ($5.49) has a sand timer that measures five minutes. Rotate it on its suction cup for another shower segment. Sometimes, the simplest option is the most effective.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The Digital Shower Timer Bird ($13.95) is a nice family-friendly option, with a countdown timer and buzzer alarm. The manufacturer, Ripple, sells timers in other cute and colorful shapes, like a yellow duck, a blue star, a green house/arrow and a green turtle.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The Shower Time by Efergy (£7.99) attaches to your shower head to measure water flow, alerting you with an alarm when you’ve used a pre-set amount of your choice.

If you’re really gung-ho, try the Navy shower, a method developed as a way to minimize the drain on water resources aboard Navy ships and submarines.It goes like this: wet yourself, turn off the water, lather your hair and body, then rinse it off quickly. Voila!

4. Check your bill — and watch the savings.
Gather up your water bills, and check out your average monthly usage. Set a goal for each month, and use the timer in the shower, while brushing teeth, and washing dishes (a tip: washing by hand uses only a fraction of the water used by a dishwasher).

It can be extremely satisfying to watch that number go down — along with the amount you’re expected to pay. And it makes the planet happy, too!

(Waterfall: flickr member bugmonkey licensed for use under Creative Commons. Clock face: flickr member crunklygill licensed for use under Creative Commons)