Posts Tagged ‘heat’

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Warm Showers: Better For Me, Better For The Environment

January 28, 2008

I’m the kind of person that fights off the cold morning chill with a scalding hot shower.  However, I’ve learned that taking showers that are too hot actually cause your skin to be dryer and less healthy.  In addition, although shower length is generally how carbon output is reduced, shower temperature also effects the amount of energy needed.  So by dropping my shower temperature a few degrees I can not only help reduce my carbon output, but improve the health of my skin.  Tricks like this, which improve quality of life while helping the environment, are my favorite kind of green living. 

So how much can we save?  My residence hall shower isn’t new in the least, so I can safely assume that a 10 minute shower uses about 25 gallons (200lbs) of water.  Heating it to scalding, about 120 F, from 60 F takes 12000 BTU.  But heating the same amount of water to just 110 F uses only 10000 BTU.

(200lb)(120-60)=12,000 BTU       (200lb)(110-60)=10,000 BTU     12,000-10,000=2,000 BTU

That difference of 2000 BTU is equivalent to .586 kWh a day.   As my university uses coal power, it means 1.227 lbs less carbon released each day.  Over a year, that’s 447.86 lbs of carbon.  Putting this in perspective, with the energy and carbon savings you could instead keep 5 10w CFLs (40w equivalent) on for 10 hours a day.  All for giving up just 10 extra degrees of heat in my shower, ones I likely won’t even notice.

Now this is just one specific way to reduce the carbon impact of your shower.  As I live in a residence hall it’s really the only aspect I can control, besides with the length of my showers.  If I were to reduce that time by even a minute, that’s an extra .36 lbs of carbon saved per day.  But if you want to do more, here are some easy tricks you might be able to use that are even easier:

-Install a low-flow shower head and use 50% less water (1.8lbs of carbon a day with a 10min shower).  Also look for one with a stop valve so you can soap up without wasting water.

-get an insulating blanket for your old water heater

-turn down the heat on your water heater

-get a tankless water heater

-and for the really ambitious, install a solar hot water heating system (no more carbon guilt!)

Good luck and happy showering!!

(data for calculations found here and here