Day 16 – energy challenge – showers use up energy as well

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shower.jpgAustralia is the driest continent on earth and many of us are aware of the need to conserve water.  But did you know that heating hot water in your home can contribute to up to 25% of your energy bill?

Yep, that’s right a quarter of your energy bill probably goes in hot water heating costs. If you have a few teenagers in the household it might even be more.

One of the most cost effective ways of preventing this expenditure is to avoid showering so much.  If you think about it, why do we really need to shower every day?  If we are out doing physical labour then clearly there is a need, but if we are sitting in an office?  What about in winter? I often find that my skin gets dry and itchy if I bathe too often in winter. In Taiwan when I did the month long post baby confinement I didn’t step into the shower or wash my hair for a month (disclaimer, I did have sponge baths and I did use dry shampoo).

Alternatively, you could do what I am doing at present and cycle to work and use shower facilities in the change room.  A bonus is that you are saving money, getting fit and reducing emissions as well.  I guess technically anyone could use the work showers, whether or not you are cycling or exercising, but it does feel a bit dishonest to just – well – use the hot water because it is free. (I am frugal but definitely not scroogey or mean.)

In Japan, they usually have a quick shower then use a shared bath. This is another option, which is useful especially if you have young kids. Pile them in the bath, then have a bath yourself with the water warm afterwards.  That is if you can manage to get them to bed while the water is too hot. (Of course, make sure they go to the toilet first. Just saying.)  Couples could also economise on showers by taking them together (once again, just saying).

If you have teenagers who need a bit of a reminder about long showers, take this tip from a friend of mine. She installed a waterproof shower timer with strict instructions that it was to be used for four-minute showers.  A quick search shows there are models available for under $5. Or you can pay more if you want one more fashionable.  The point is, there are many available.

You could also shower to a favourite song.

These days it is all super trendy to have these big showerheads that spew out a lot of money so that you feel like it is raining.  The problem is that they use up rather a lot of water.  My new man, who I am discovering is quite a frugaleer as well, told me that you can buy a simple water flow disc for around $5 that helps to reduce water usage while not restricting the feel of your rain shower.  The savings costs are quite amazing.

Check the flow rate of your shower by using a bucket to catch the water over a minute. How much water did you catch? Below is a guide to the costs for different flow rates.

Water Flow disc 9L/Min
Water Saver Shower Head 13L/Min
Un-restricted Shower Head 21L/Min
Water Flow disc 9L/Min
Water Saver Shower Head13L/Min
Un-restricted Shower Head 21L/Min
Shower Time 5 Min 5min 5min 10min 10min 10min
Water used by 2 people for 1 shower each per day 90 130 210 180 260 420
Electric Storage HWS @ 19.5c/kwh, cost per day 1.206 1.742 2.814 2.412 3.484 5.628
cost per year 440.19 635.83 1027.11 880.38 1271.66 2054.22

Another thing to be aware of is leaking water heaters, or water heaters that are not insulated. Often water heaters are outside.  Think how cold they would be in, say, a Canberra winter and how much energy it would take for them to reheat from super cold to hot?  An inspection of your water heater could be one of the most energy efficient decisions you make in your home.  Can you adjust the Water Heater thermostat to a lower temperature?

Consider also how you wash your clothes.  Do you really need your clothes to be washed at super hot temperatures? I have used cold water for years and haven’t had any problems.  In fact, I think it works better for some stains that might set in hotter water.

Today is the last day of our energy challenge.  It has, as my readers know, been a very imperfect challenge. In between going skiing, starting a new relationship, being busy at work and having a sick kid I have still managed to blog about energy throughout most of this month. I hope you have learnt a lot  – I am learning so much from you all on the Frugal Dare to Millionaire Facebook Group (and comments on this blog).  Thank you all of being with me on this journey.

I am pleased to announce that the September challenge – starting tomorrow – will be a $50/week challenge.  This will involve spending only $50/week on food and groceries.  The challenge will have a soft start tomorrow before starting properly on Monday 4 September.  This challenge is significant as it marks a one year anniversary of the challenge.  And yes, it can be done and my freezer is STILL full to bursting.  But for now ….

Your challenge for today is to consider how you can save on water heating costs.  Can you reduce the amount of time in the shower?  Can you wash your clothes in cold water?  And where is your hot water heater and how is it tracking?

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6 comments

  1. I agree with you on the clothes wash – I always wash in cold water and like you have done for years 🙂 As for showering, I do think it’s important to shower daily for hygiene and personal freshness. I have lived in the UK where showering is more infrequent – and a quick journey in the London underground in summer is enough to make you realise that daily washing is a good idea. There are moisturising wash gels if you are prone to dry skin – and Canberra winters are very dry and hard on the skin. For me, the best savings have come from taking shorter showers and using a water-saver shower head.

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    1. I can just imagine what summer travelling on the underground must be like! I hope I never get to that stage. My *new* washing machine that I purchased this year defaults to warm and I keep forgetting to manually change it. Doh!

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  2. My mum used to set a timer on us, and that was 30 years ago! It certainly set my showering habits of today. Mr. ETT takes ages in the shower. There’s only so much surface area to wash, how long do you need?

    Also, we stopped showering every day a couple of years ago. As you said, if we are hot or sweaty or need to for some reason, then yes. Otherwise we only shower every second day. Saves time as well.

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    1. Most definitely a time saver! I struggle to find time for showers now that I have kidlets and full time work. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. Dry shampoo is very useful sometimes. Laughing re Mr. ETT taking longer than you in the shower.

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