Wisps of steam fogging up your mirror in the morning can be just as comforting as a hot cup of coffee with breakfast. Just like coffee, hot morning showers are a tough habit to break.
A smorgasbord of research already indicates that regularly taking cold showers can alleviate depression and anxiety, relieve pain and inflammation and increase productivity, but if you need further motivation to change your steamy showering ways, just take a look at the effect hot showers are having on your bank account, not to mention the planet.
A little over 40 percent of the energy expended during your shower is heating energy, and you'll see those costs accrue by using your electric or gas water heater.
The average shower lasts about eight minutes and expends about 2 ½ gallons of hot water per minute, for an estimated total of about 20 gallons of hot water per shower. Using estimates provided by the Federal Energy Management Program, the cost of heating said water alone – not including the cost of the water itself – is about $86 annually if your home uses an electric heater. For a gas water heater, the annual energy cost is only about $3.
Naturally, a brisk rinse encourages you to shower for a shorter amount of time than a languid, hot shower. Speaking to the Washington Post in 2015, the EPA's Jonah Schein said, "Typically 20 percent of every shower, the duration, is essentially lost" due to behavioral waste. Every minute you shave off your shower is money shaved off your water bill too. Nonprofit freshwater watchdog Circle of Blue reports that 30 major U.S. cities saw the price of water increase by 4 percent in 2017, so those savings are bound to become more and more significant.
Perhaps more unexpectedly, a 2016 study from Geert A. Buijze, MD and PhD at Amsterdam's Academic Medical Center, found that people who use cold water in the shower consistently miss 29 percent fewer work days than those who take regular hot showers. Given the invigorating effects of chilly showers, maybe you won't even need to buy that morning cup of Joe, either.
More Ways to Save
Installing an EPA WaterSense-certified shower head, which limits flow rates to less than two gallons per minute, could save your family up to 2,900 gallons annually. Even easier, investing in a 99-cent bucket and reusing the shower's grey water to water the lawn or garden can also reduce your utility bill.
The planet will thank you too. In the U.S., showers use about 1.2 trillion gallons of water per year, and water heating accounts for about 17 percent of total home electricity usage. That means shorter and colder equals much, much greener.
- Women's Health: I Took Cold Showers Every Morning for a Week – Here's What Happened
- Circle of Blue: Price of Water 2017: Four Percent Increase in 30 Large U.S. Cities
- Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy: Energy Cost Calculation for Electric and Gas Water Heaters
- Harvard Business Review: Cold Showers Lead to Fewer Sick Days
- Washington Post: Your Shower is Wasting Huge Amounts of Energy and Water. Here’s What You Can Do About It.
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