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Money down the drain – the cost of lazing in the shower

Image: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The average person takes nine minutes in the shower and has five showers a week, new research from E.ON has found. Women also typically take longer in the shower than men, the report.

But by reducing your average shower time by two minutes, the average home could save £20 a year, on top of the environmental benefits of saving water and energy.

By timing our showers on a typical day, I found that my husband spent just seven minutes washing, while I lazed under the water for a whole 12 minutes.

Being slightly obsessed with finding ways to save on bills, I decided to cut more than two minutes off my daily shower. If my husband can manage just seven minutes then I decided I would not spend more than that.

After investing in a dedicated shower timer (and then replacing it with my existing egg timer because it was easier to work), I was ready to go.

For the last three days, I have set a timer for seven minutes, thinking that at least that way I’m not costing more than my other half. I thought it would be easy.

It’s not. Getting clean and getting out in seven minutes flat means there’s no time for staring into space, vaguely wondering whether to have muesli or porridge for breakfast. There’s definitely no time for using that ‘3 minute miracle’ conditioner I like.

It’s bad enough waking up to an alarm, but having to leap out of the shower at the sound of a bell is even worse.

A price worth paying

I doubt very much that I will keep the timer in the bathroom. I also don’t think the financial savings are that impressive – £20 a year by cutting back two minutes in the shower isn’t actually that much.

For a household where everyone showers every day, it’s less than 0.05p a day. I like small savings that add up, but this one doesn’t seem that impressive to me.

However, I do like the idea of cutting down on wasted water from an environmental point of view.

According to the Environment Agency, the average UK family uses 500 litres of water a day, including communal appliances – that equates to 1.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.

That’s quite a strong argument in favour of cutting down. In short, I’m going to ditch the alarm but I’m also going to make a concerted effort to speed up my showers.

Ways to cut water use

Even though the savings made by cutting two minutes off your shower aren’t that huge, reducing water use in your home more generally can save money.

Here are some tips for cutting back:

Fix your drips – According to the Energy Saving Trust, a dripping tap can waste more than 5,500 litres of water a year.

Be more efficient - Attach a flow regulator to your shower and cut the water it uses (Don’t try this with electric showers though as they could be damaged).

Reuse unused water – Don’t throw away leftover water, instead, poor them into houseplants. The same goes for running the tap to get it hot – catch the water and use it elsewhere.

Don’t run the tap unnecessarily – Turn it off while you brush your teeth or shave. Also, most modern showers are hot straight away, so don’t run them before getting in. Consider turning off the shower while lathering up – and use a shower puff or sponge as they lather up really quickly.

Buy efficient models – When you come to replace your bathroom fittings, consider investing in more efficient models like low-flush and duel-flush toilets – saving up to six litres per flush! More efficient appliances like washing machines also use less water and electricity.

Ask for help – Some water companies will issue free cistern hippos and other water-saving devices, get in touch with yours to see if it offers any help.

Turn down the temperature – This isn’t to suggest you should have a freezing shower, but turning down the dial a few notches can save real money and you’ll soon stop noticing. Also, it’s better for your hair and skin.

Think about where else you can shower. If you work out or go for a regular run, you might need more than one shower a day. But if you could time your fitness regime so you shower at the gym, the pool, or even at work if there are facilities, you could really make a difference to your water and heating bills.