For some homeowners, the thought of a blissful soak in a steaming tub depicts a moment of pure relaxation. Others crave the invigorating efficiency of a quick shower.

However, with rising living costs casting a spotlight on every aspect of home consumption, homeowners are scrutinising their water usage more than ever. And one question inevitably arises: which bathing method reigns supreme in the battle against water waste? – Is it the shower or the bath?

This is where things get interesting. While the image of a constantly flowing shower might paint it as the bigger water villain, the reality is actually very dependent on your personal bathing habits.

Plumbing expert Brian Griffiths of delves deeper into the factors influencing water consumption for both baths and showers, helping us navigate this age-old debate. Brian also goes over some methods to help you save water when showering and bathing, helping you to modify your habits and, ultimately, save money.

Do Showers or Baths Use More Water?

Many homeowners hold the misconception that showers, with their constant flow, are inherently more wasteful than baths. However, the truth is that it depends heavily on your individual bathing habits. To understand why, we need to delve deeper into the factors that influence water consumption in both baths and showers.

Factors That Can Affect Water Usage

Bath Size and Depth: Standard bathtubs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with capacities ranging from 30 to a staggering 80 gallons. The deeper you fill the tub, the more water you use, and consequently, the higher your water bill climbs. Imagine a standard bathtub filled to the brim – that's equivalent to flushing your toilet roughly 120 times!

Shower Duration and Flow Rate: A typical showerhead releases around 2.5 gallons of water per minute. So, a 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons, a seemingly reasonable amount. However, for those who linger in the shower, indulging in lengthy soaks and elaborate routines, the water usage can quickly surpass a half-full bath. Every extra minute spent under the spray translates to additional gallons used.

Showerhead Technology: The good news is that showerhead technology has come a long way. Modern low-flow showerheads can significantly reduce water usage without compromising on water pressure. These marvels of engineering utilise innovative techniques like pulsating sprays or air infusions to create a satisfying showering experience while minimising water consumption.

Based on the factors discussed above, we can arrive at a general verdict: a 10-minute shower with a standard showerhead will typically use less water than a full bath. However, this is just a starting point. If you tend to linger in the shower and frequently exceed the 10-minute mark, a half-full bath might be the more water-efficient choice.

For a more personalised assessment, consider consulting a local plumber. They can analyse your specific bath and shower setup, including the size and capacity of your bathtub and the flow rate of your showerhead. With this information, they can provide a more accurate estimate of which method uses more water in your particular case. Additionally, plumbers can identify potential leaks in your faucets or showerheads, which can silently waste significant amounts of water over time.

How to Save Water in The Bath and Shower

There are many ways in which you can save on the amount of water that you’re using. Below are some tips on how to reduce the amount of water that you’re using when showering and bathing.

Don’t Fill Up the Bathtub

We all know the luxurious feeling of sinking into a full bathtub. But here's a surprising fact: you can slash your water usage (and your water bill) simply by reducing the amount of water you use for baths. If you typically fill the tub to the brim, consider filling it halfway instead. This simple change can instantly cut your bathwater usage in half. Worried that a half-full tub won't be enough? Start by filling it to three-quarters full and consider reducing the amount each time. Every little bit counts!

Choose an Economic Shower Head

Consider consulting a plumber to find the perfect water-saving showerhead for your needs. They can recommend models with slower flow rates, which use less water per minute without sacrificing pressure. These innovative showerheads often employ techniques like pulsating sprays or air infusions to create a satisfying showering experience while minimising water consumption. Additionally, many low-flow showerheads allow you to control the water flow directly, giving you even more control over your water usage. The relatively low cost of a new showerhead makes it a worthwhile investment that can significantly reduce your overall water consumption.

Time Your Showers

Short showers are great for helping you save money on your water bills. Aim for 10 minutes or less to conserve water and keep your energy bills in check. Setting a timer when you hop in is a great way to stay on track. If you love music, you can turn your shower into a water-saving challenge. Most songs are around 3-4 minutes long, so queue up a playlist of 2-3 favourites. Can you finish your shower routine before the music ends? It's a fun way to be mindful of your shower time.

Share Baths

Sharing bathwater with family members can be another water-saving strategy, though it's completely understandable if this isn't for everyone. If you're open to it occasionally, sharing a bath can significantly reduce your overall water usage.

Reduce the Number of Baths and Showers

For a significant water-saving impact, consider extending the time between showers or baths. Opting for every other day instead of daily cleanses can halve your water usage in this area, resulting in some significant savings. This approach works well for some, but remember to adjust based on your activity level and personal hygiene needs.

Turn The Shower Off When You Don’t Need It

Think about how often you stand under a running shower while lathering up, shaving, or shampooing. Develop the habit of turning off the water during these tasks to help you save water. Every second counts!

Visualise The Waste

Before you hop in the shower, take a moment to picture the water cascading down the drain while you're not actively using it. Imagine the gallons accumulating with each passing second. This mental image can be a powerful motivator to shower more quickly and turn off the flow when you’re not using it.

Make Sure The Family Is Informed

Spreading the word about water-saving habits goes beyond your own shower. Talk to friends and family about your newfound water-consciousness. Encourage them to adopt water-saving practices in their own routines. You can even challenge them to a friendly competition – who can reduce their shower time the most in a week? By sharing your knowledge and inspiring others, you can even create a ripple effect of water conservation that extends far beyond your bathroom door. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the answer to the shower vs bath debate depends on your showering and bathing habits. While baths can seem luxurious, they tend to use a significant amount of water, especially if you fill the tub all the way up. Showers, particularly those with low-flow showerheads and practised habits like turning off the water while lathering up, are generally the more water-efficient option.

However, the most sustainable choice is the one that best suits your needs and encourages water conservation. By implementing these tips and adopting a water-conscious mindset, you can reduce your water bills while also reducing your impact on the environment.