Showers are that necessary evil that you have to encounter every day. Or every other day, depending on your (or your partner’s) preference. We wake up in the morning, try to clear that morning fog, then step into the shower. If you're like most people, you'll get the shower going and your mind will immediately embark on a journey far beyond the walls of your shower, let alone house. You think of the laundry. You think of the deadlines coming up. Then this brilliant app idea you've been meaning to get to. Or the lyrics to a song you’re writing. Or a blog post about thinking in the shower. Before you know it, your body is covered in suds when you finally come to. How long has it been? Five minutes? Twenty? Shower time is amorphous and unpredictable. Depending on the busyness of your mind, this amount may vary daily. Weekends may be the worst offenders since you have a much lighter schedule, thus leading to an even greater expanse of time.
You may be thinking that you enjoy standing in the shower, letting your mind free. It may be the only time you allow yourself to do such a thing. Another day, I'll get into the importance of meditation, but for now we can look at some numbers to see if they sway your wandering mind.
Let’s say you're living with one other person and both of you take a 20-minute shower every day. That may be on the long side, but we're proving a point here. That’s 140 minutes per person per week, so 280 minutes total. Multiply that out over a year and you're paying for 14,560 minutes (or 242 hours!) of hot water every year. That’s 15 business days for each of you. Can you imagine taking a three week vacation and standing in the shower 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday for its entirety? All I can see is pruned fingers and clogged drains. So let’s set out to trim our shower time down!
The Countdown Method
Recently, I have developed a simple technique for keeping my mind on track while vastly improving my shower time. Once I'm in the shower and the water is at a comfortable temperature, I start counting down from ten. As I start this countdown, I get my hair and body wet. Once I reach zero, I start a 5-second timer to grab my shampoo+conditioner combo, once that reaches zero, the shampoo+conditioner should be on my hair. Reset to 10 seconds in order to scrub the hair. This process continues all the way until my final rinse is complete. To better visualize this process, here is a clean list that you can skim over.
10 - wet hair and body
5 - put shampoo+conditioner on hand then hair
10 - scrub hair
5 - grab face wash
10 - scrub face wash
5 - rinse face
5 - grab soap
10 - lather upper body
10 - lather lower body
5 - rinse bar of soap and put down
10 - wash/scrub upper body
10 - wash/scrub lower body
10 - extra time for odor-dense zones
10 - rinse hair
5 - rinse face
10 - rinse upper body
10 - rinse lower body
10-20 - final rinse
Assuming you have metronomic counting abilities, this totals 140 seconds. From twenty minutes to just over two minutes. That’s outstanding! This is, of course, hard to accomplish in reality. For me, these seconds usually stretch a little here and there as I find I'm not going to finish the task in the allotted time. With that said, my quickest showers probably come closer to five minutes. When I don't count, my longer showers can come in at around twenty minutes. I know...I get pretty distracted if I let myself.
Now I realize that this is a pretty brief list of tasks. For the ladies, shaving legs costs an extra several minutes. As does using a separate shampoo and conditioner. If you're really aiming to take a lightning shower though, you can minimize your process to using a single body wash for your hair, face, and body. That could really save some time in the long run.
All of this may sound a little intense or stressful, but let’s look at the amount of time we'll gain and the amount of money we can save over one year and ten years.
The Potential Savings
Before, with 20-minute showers, we were clocking in at 121 hours per year. Now, with an expedient 5-minute shower, we're only spending 30 hours a year. That’s about 90 hours every year that you’re regaining! In a decade, that’s 900 hours, or 112 business days (at 8 hours each). Imagine what you can do with all this newfound time! If you were able to utilize those 900 hours at a wage of $20/hour, you'd have $18,000 in your pocket.
Now let’s look at the financial savings from using less hot water every day. According to Seattle City Light, a 20-minute shower costs $1.35 and a 5-minute shower costs just 34 cents. Because that's basically one dollar every day, you're saving $365 every year, or $3,650 in a decade. Add that to the potential value of your saved time, you could be looking at $21,650 by this time in 2024. Awesome! I'll take that.
Let's put this into perspective to make this change more impactful. Imagine a stranger walks up to you and says, "I'll give you $3,650 and 900 hours of free time if you take shorter showers for ten years." When you look at it that way, it seems like a very worthwhile change. Not to mention you'll be using less natural resources, which is always good.
All of these numbers are based on using a relatively low-flow shower head like this (I used this head for years and loved it so much). If your current shower head is pumping out three to five gallons per minute, you should switch immediately to a more efficient head! This alone could cut your yearly costs in half. And it will pay for itself in the first few months.