This year, Solar Oregon is introducing a new series entitled “Go Zero Hacks, Ways to Fight Climate Change from your home.” We want to talk about the many small things we common folks can do to save energy and money while at the same time do our share to solve this challenge of our time.
Our First Goal Zero Hack is something that seems small and unimportant but holds oodles of promise for energy efficiency — the lowly shower head.
Yes — using a water efficient shower head is a hidden, mammoth energy saver that is both easy and inexpensive to install. It also offers a triple bang for your buck;
- You save water. Showers are the second biggest users of water in the average home. Efficient shower heads keep more water in nature for fish and farming as well as save all the energy (about 5 watts per gallon on average) it takes to clean and pump it to your house.
- You save Energy. Heating water requires a lot of energy. 17% of an average homes energy use goes towards heating water in general — 6% to showers specifically.
- You save sewage from going in rivers. Less water going down the drain means less water to pump to the sewage treatment plant to treat and clean. It also means that during rain storms when many sewers overflow into rivers, less raw sewage will go into waterways.
What your old shower head is costing you.
The average shower head uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute. That equals 17 gallons of water per average 8 minute shower. That’s a whooping 6182 gallons per year. (See pool pic below to try to wrap your head around all that water.)
At two cents a gallon, that will cost you roughly $124 in my city of Portland, Oregon.
And that’s just the water. To heat it to 120 degrees you’ll need 986 kilowatt hours of energy on average, which is about the energy contained in 1000 pounds of coal. That will cost you around $118 per person as well.
So per person, per year you’ll be spending close to $250 to take your showers.
With this Go Zero shower head hack you can cut that amount by 40% simply by switching out your shower head for a more efficient one.
That one, small act will save you $100 per person per year, plus 2,500 gallons water and 400 pounds of coal.
But wait there’s more!
In the past, some people thought that using a more efficient shower head made for a poor showering experience. See this hilarious Seinfeld episode.
No longer. My family uses half the water per minute of a typical shower head and the showering experience is deluxe. You notice literally no difference in shower quality and many say it’s actually an an improvement over what they had before. Since we have 6 people on average taking showers in my house — we save $600 dollars a year on showers alone!
You can receive discounts on shower heads or even free energy efficient ones that save water or you can buy great ones at full price for usually for under $30. We use a brand called Bricor that works amazingly well. On the deluxe end, there are Nebia shower heads that retail for a lot but use only .7 gallons of water and provide an amazing showering experience.
Whatever brand you end up going with, I recommend getting a shower head that uses 1 — 1.25 gallons per minute. It’s half the standard shower head rate and you literally notice zero difference in quality.
So what are you waiting for? Go Zero. Replace your shower head, save $100, a pool full of water and 400 lbs of coal every year and do your part towards solving climate change today.
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