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Saving Water – The Bath vs. Shower Debate

If you don’t live in Southern England, chances are that you might not have noticed the water shortage problem in the UK, but you might have heard of the hosepipe ban and were left puzzled by London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone plea to Londoners to stop flushing the lavatory after relieving themselves! Two unusually dry winters have left the reservoirs only about half full in Southern England. In the Thames water region, around London, there has been less than 70% of the rainfall that was expected since November 2004. The British are probably unaware that Londoners use an average of 165 litres of water every day, higher than the national average of 150 litres and about one-third higher than other European cities. These must be depressing figures for any British household, but you don’t have to panic yet! By educating yourself about conserving water in simple ways, you can breathe easy and perhaps even use a hose or sprinkler to water your garden after all! In this article, we’ll debate the big question—does it takes less water to take a shower or have a bath? First of all, let’s take a look at a few facts: # A full bathtub holds approximately 140 litres of water # Standard shower heads dispense 20-60 litres of water per minute # Shower heads with flow restrictors dispense 10-15 litres of water per minute An average bath requires 100 to 200 litres of water. Depending on your showerhead and whether it has a flow restrictor in it and how long you shower, the answer could oscillate either towards shower or bath. The average shower of four minutes with an old showerhead uses 80 litres of water.

With a low-flow showerhead, only 40 litres of water is used. If your house was constructed before 1992, chances are your showerheads force out about 20 litres of water per minute. Multiply this by the number of minutes you are in the shower and the litres add up fast! If you’d like to test the amount of water wasted yourself, here’s an experiment you could try at home. Put the plug in the bathtub next time you take a shower (but not a stand-alone shower as you might spill over the lower shower wall). After you've showered, examine how much the tub filled up.

If there is less water than you would usually have in a bath, then you will probably save money by taking a shower instead of a bath. Although the chances of the contrary happening are unheard of, if it is the case for you, then in addition to the enjoyment you get in a bath, there is more good news for you. A good, long soak in a bath can renew the spirit. Hydrotherapy, which loosely translated means ‘rejuvenation by water,’ enables bathers to revitalize themselves. Some modern systems even contain air jets that have been strategically placed to target the body’s pressure points, relieving tension and stress. Bathers can also enjoy the benefit of chromatherapy, which uses coloured light in much the same way aromatherapy uses scent to stimulate different psychological and physical responses. Bath time for a young family can be an important playtime and social occasion to be shared with other family members. A number of people find baths a calming way to relax in today's fast paced stressful life. Herbs and essential oils soothe aching muscles, tense nerves, and skin irritations; soften the skin; and ensure a good complexion. The Environment Agency, however, would recommend short showers, not baths.

Based on its latest research, it proclaims that a 5-minute shower uses about a third of the water of a bath and can save 50 litres every time. The time taken to take a shower is not the sole variable though. As previously mentioned, water consumed is also dependent on the type of shower you use. Power showers can use more water than a bath in less than 5 minutes! Low-flow showerheads deliver 10 litres of water or less per minute and are relatively inexpensive. Older showerheads use 20 to 30 litres of water per minute. If you still believe that a shower cannot equal the gratification of a bath, then it is recommended to partially fill your bath in order to use less water. That option might seem better if you consider the plight of sailors aboard ships. Due to lack of fresh water aboard ships, sailors were taught to get wet, turn off the water, soap and scrub, and then briefly turn the water on to rinse. Let’s hope British residents don’t suffer the same fate in a few years.


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