Updated on 06.06.12

Take Shorter Showers (158/365)

Trent Hamm

After a long day, I enjoy a nice shower. It feels pretty good to stand in there and let the water pour over you. Every once in a while, I simply take a long shower.

Most of the time, though, a shower is just a task to be performed as part of the normal day. With children around, it’s one that needs to be performed quickly, too. A quick shower is a less expensive shower, too.

My target is a four minute shower, though I often go over by a little bit. I count those four minutes from the instant I turn on the water to the instant I turn it off.

When I’m in there, I’m all business. My goal is to get clean and get out so I can get on with the other activities of the day.

Take Shorter Showers (158/365)

Of course, the real question is how much money does such a short shower really save?

Let’s say that you take a twelve minute shower every day, and your shower head produces two gallons of water per minute. If you cut that down to four minutes, you’re saving sixteen gallons of water per shower, or 5,840 gallons per year. Depending on where you are, that will save you $10 to $100 a year in water usage, according to these rates.

On top of that, there’s the issue of water heating. With each shower, you’re using hot water, which is either causing your tankless heater to run for a while or causing hot water to leave your tank and cold water to enter it.

In either case, you’re going to be using some amount of energy to replenish your hot water. Given that energy rates and efficiencies vary greatly, let’s just assume that it takes half a cent worth of energy to raise the temperature of a gallon of water from cold to hot. That means you’ll be saving eight cents in energy costs per shorter shower, or $30 per year.

Remembering that these numbers are very much a “back-of-the-envelope” example, cutting your daily shower from twelve minutes to four minutes will save you somewhere between $10 and $130 per year in water use and energy use, depending on such factors as the flow rate of your shower head, the local cost of water, the efficiency of your water heater, the local cost of energy, and the heat level of your shower.

What if you like a nice long soak in the shower? Go for it, by all means. It’s a pretty inexpensive treat, after all.

However, if you’re like me, the best part of a shower is getting clean. If you do that efficiently, you save both time and money.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

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  1. Tracy says:

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think this site was a parody. And posts like this are why.

  2. Ruth says:

    Someone thought this was worth publishing in a book. Coupon.

  3. Vanessa says:

    I shower until I feel clean, however long that takes. coupon

  4. Troy says:

    control your cash will have a field day with this post.

    Like fish in a barrel

  5. kc says:

    After a long day, I enjoy a nice shower. It feels pretty good to stand in there and let the water pour over you.

    Nice sentence! Coupon writer!

  6. kc says:

    Of course, the real question is how much money does such a short shower really save?

    The real question is, what did your parents do to you???????????????

  7. kc says:

    Working title, Trent’s novel: Coupon Quest

  8. Emma says:

    You can also catch the water from the shower in the tub and re – use it.Coupon.People can take turns : shower, bath(in the shower water). Kids can bathe in the same water.

  9. Donald says:

    Very strong post Trent.

  10. kc says:

    3 word concept transformed into 500 words of drivel = “Hamm” alchemy.

  11. graytham says:

    “Every once in a while, I simply take a long shower.”

    Really? I prefer to shower with difficulty.

  12. Andrew says:

    Don’t forget to sanitize hands afterwards!

  13. Chris says:

    I like the idea of saving money just like everyone else, but going to an extreme seems to diminish the enjoyment of life at least somewhat. I’m not advocating buying a houseful of useless junk, but after squirreling away money until the house in the country can be purchased, at what point would he loosen up a little? The lengths to which Trent will go to save a few dollars here and there seem almost obsessive.

  14. Donald says:

    I think Emma’s comment #8 is the best :-)
    Trent is a hack.

  15. Liz says:

    I call kt alc-Hamm-y, kc.

  16. Joan says:


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