water-wise gadget: can you take a 5-minute shower?

I can. When I use my 5-minute shower timer.

I got this Shower Coach from my city, at an event related to water conservation. It’s great.

  • I stuck it to the shower wall with the suction cup.
  • I flip the sand timer when I start my shower.
  • Keep an eye on the time as I shower. Even with my poor near-sighted vision, I can see the sand slipping down.
  • Finish up in 5 minutes… or as close as I can get.

I’m more conscious of my showering time now, because I have a tool that’s easy to use.  Sure, sometimes I go over, but I’m also more likely to move things along because I know the gallons are running down the drain.

====== UPDATE (3/24/2010)======

Links to purchase timers:


Every minute makes a difference.

My shower flows at 2 gallons per minute (gpm)*. If I shorten my shower by 1 minute every day, I save 730 gallons/year.  2 minutes = 1460 gallons/year saved. But what does 1460 gallons mean?

  • About 32 full baths (@45 gallons per bath)
  • Or 32 car washes at a professional car wash (@ 45 gallons per wash)

Or, 1.5 years worth of water for an average user in Mozambique.

Average water use ranges from 200–300 litres [52-78 gallons] a person a day in most countries in Europe to 575 [150 gallons] in the United States. Residents of Phoenix, Arizona, a desert city with some of the greenest lawns in the United States, use more than 1,000 litres [260 gallons] a day. By contrast, average use in countries such as Mozambique is less than 10 litres [2.6 gallons]. (Source: 2006 United Nations Human Development Report)

Next time you’re enjoying your shower, think about what a 1 or 2 minute difference can make. According to some studies, the average American’s shower takes 7-8 minutes, so getting to the five-minute mark isn’t such a stretch for most. (Except for teens who, as most parents of teens probably know, tend to take longer.)

Try a Shower Coach, or something like it (Shorter Shower Timer), or even a kitchen timer. And see if you can take a 5 minute shower.

* If you have a high-flow showerhead–over 2.5 gpm–you can make a huge impact without even having to shorten your showers. Just change your showerhead to a low-flow. You could go from a wasteful waterfall of 5 gpm to a more reasonable 2.5 gpm and have a lovely shower and reduce your shower water usage 50%.

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5 Responses to water-wise gadget: can you take a 5-minute shower?

  1. Laura Parkin says:

    I like the math. Puts things in perspective.
    I was figuring that by taking a bucket bath, I think I use about 3 gallons for washing. Not bad.
    cheers, Laura

  2. Love the Shower Coach…wish my city were giving those away!

    We have buckets to capture the initial cold water, but a 5-minute timer would be useful, too.

  3. Pingback: how much plastic trash waste in a week? « everyday sustainable

  4. Chris says:

    Just changed one of our shower heads today to a 1.5 gallon per minute, hope to see a reduction soon….where can you get the shower timer?

    • wako says:

      I just posted an update — within the post above — with some links to shower timers. You might also call your local hardware store and ask if they have them. Mine is a sand hourglass, but an electronic one might be good for people who take longer showers and want to work their way down by setting it shorter, over time.

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