shower.jpg So, in case you hadn’t heard, it’s Water Conservation Week. I dunno. I Googled it, and it might be a thing. Roll with it. So, in honor of this week, I started thinking about where, in my house, I use the most water. I came up with three contenders: the washing machine, the bath and the water slide that serves as the only way to get down from upstairs. Writing for this blog may someday change my mind, but I hate washing clothes by hand, and I’m not about to turn off the water slide. So, if I’m going to cut my water consumption, I have one option: the bath. Well, that seems easy, right? All I have to do is take showers instead of baths. Problem solved. Well, maybe.

How much water do I use in the bath?

Let me just say something right out front. There’s nothing wrong or effeminate about a man taking a bubble bath. I don’t care what you say. I’m manly. And I love bubble baths. So, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that I take a bubble bath daily (still manly). I have a typical, non-jetted bathtub, and when I bathe, I fill it up to the bottom of the overflow. At that point in my tub, it’s exactly 48 inches long. It’s 20.5 inches wide, and the level to which I fill it is 9.5 inches deep. Off the top of my head, I can tell you that one gallon of water is equal to 231 cubic inches of volume. That means that the 9,348 cubic inches of water in my bath is equal to about 40.5 gallons. That’s 283 gallons a week, just to relax. So I should obviously take showers instead, right?

How much water do I use in the shower?

I’m a pretty fit guy. As such, I don’t have a lot of… erm… surface area to cover when I’m washing. But, I do like the feeling of scalding hot water slowly turning me a nice shade of scarlet. So, I don’t tend to get in a hurry when I take a shower. My water heater holds about 10 minutes of scalding-ness when the showerhead is running full-blast, and the showerhead has a max flow rate of 2 gallons per minute. So, in my ten minutes of skin cookery, I use about 20 gallons – half what I consume in the bath. But my wife making fun of me earlier got me thinking. I’m not the only person in my house, and I’m definitely not the longest showerer. So, it turns out the real question is,

How much water does my wife use in the shower?

Short answer: A lot. See, she doesn’t like to pretend she’s on the lobster ride at a chef’s theme park. She’s more of the lukewarm shower persuasion, which means the water heater doesn’t have to work quite as fast to keep up. And she’s gotta shave. I guess. I don’t really know what goes on in there. Lady things, probably. So, while she’s in there cultivating her feminine mystery, she keeps the shower running for upwards of 20 minutes and uses, you guessed it, 40 gallons of water. She might as well just fill up the tub.

How can I conserve water in the bath or shower?

Guys, we have it easy. We jump in the shower, slap some soap on the smelly spots, and we’re done. If we really get it down to a science, we can be in and out in five minutes. Or quicker. But, there’s an even better way that saves even more water. See, I’m in the Air Force Reserve, which has led me to all sorts of wonderful places around the world, mostly in the Middle Eastern section. The parts of the world I’ve visited tend to be pretty arid, so there are occasional water shortages. In those areas, we’re asked to take “combat showers” (In the Air Force, adding the word “combat” to things makes us feel more like warriors). The Bringers of Water request that we turn the water on for 30 seconds and get wet, turn it off to soap up and then back on for 2 ½ minutes to rinse. It’s a cold way to wash, but with my showerhead, it uses about six gallons. Saving water in the bath is easier. Just don’t fill it as full, duh. Every inch of water that goes into my bathtub is another 4 ¼ gallons. If I drop the level by two inches, I can save almost 10 gallons per bath. Ladies, you have it a little more difficult. You have more surfaces to shave, and you tend to have significantly more hair to wash than we do. But, what if you tried this radical idea? Put about half an inch of water in the tub and use that to shave. That’s only two gallons, and it’ll give you plenty to splash on your legs and rinse your razor. Then, when you’re done shaving, combat shower it up. You’ll still be lovely and mysterious, and you’ll only have used about eight gallons of water. I know what you’re thinking. “There’s no way I’m combat showering.” It sucks. I know. But, in the name of Water Conservation Week, why not give it a shot? Seven days, seven combat showers. I dare you. Are combat showers for you? Or do you have better water-saving tips for bath time? Let us know in the comments below.