Showering

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Red
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Showering

Post by Red » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:22 pm

This was brought up in the Ecosia thread, how if you took short cold showers every other day it'd help in trying to be more environmental than just being vegan.

How often should you shower? I used to do it everyday before school, but the last few months of the year I stopped showering in the morning before school (unless I was REALLY tired, which was very rare), and it was a huge increase in quality of life. It made getting ready for the day easier, and simplified my morning routine (I almost never ate breakfast either, so it was even faster!). I showered when I got home (which always felt more rewarding than showering in the morning), and gave me a boost of energy.

Now that I'm on summer vacation, I go out for my morning bike ride, and do my other exercises, then I shower since I sweat like a motherfucker.
A month ago however I did the don't shower for a week challenge. Basically, you have to go a week without showering. It was hard, but I managed it.

I guess my question is, how often should we shower? Should we take hot or cold showers? How long should they be on average (I have a timer that caps each shower at 10 minutes)?
Learning never exhausts the mind.
-Leonardo da Vinci

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:17 pm

Depending on where you live, water may or may not be an issue. Heating water is more energy intensive, but it also depends on where you live and even the time of day because the issue is how and how much you heat the water.

A little physics for you:
Heat capacity. The specific heat capacity of water is 4,200 Joules per kilogram per degree Celsius (J/kg°C). This means that it takes 4,200 J to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1°C.
https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/z2gjtv4/revision/5

Low flow showers are around 7 liters per minute, so a ten minute shower is 70 liters which is 294,000 J per degree hotter it is than 100% cold water.
If your incoming water temperature is 15c and you raise it to 25c (not a hot shower by any means) that's 2,940,000 J per shower with a 100% efficient heater. Almost a Kilowatt-hour of energy. If you do it every day that's 24.5 kwh a month.
You can do the conversion of that to CO2, but it probably represents about 3% of your home's energy usage.
A warm shower (about body temp) is twice as much energy. A hot shower is even more.

You can take shorter showers, or not take them every day (or both), but I don't recommend being stinky or sacrificing personal hygiene.
You can get a lower flow shower head, and that can be both easy and make a pretty big difference over time.
You can also set the temp of your showers a little cooler without going all the way to cold. Every bit helps.

You can also invest in a better water heater. Heat pump heaters are more efficient, particularly in the summer. Solar heaters that go on your roof are even better. You can also do heat recovery, but that's more tricky. Also, insulate your hot water lines so you don't run water forever letting it warm up. That's easy. And install a thermostatic valve if you don't have one, or adjust the one you have. That'll change your default temperatures at the shower tap.

I tend to recommend infrastructure investment instead of large personal sacrifices like taking uncomfortably cold showers or being gross. Make it effortless and normal so other people can do it too.

Like how in going vegan we can make a minimal sacrifice by enjoying mock meats (which come from infrastructure to support that change) instead of being martyrs and eating nothing but beans.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:19 pm

The total amount of water used in showering is quite small compared to the total amount of water humans use. Watering the garden/sprinklers, agriculture, and mining and other industrial processes use a lot more. So I think the amount of water in showers is not a big deal environmentally or ethically - unless there is a shortage going on or you live in the desert of course.

So I am not concerned about it.

I think the carbon footprint of the heating of the water is more important than the water itself.

In our house, the annual carbon footprint of the gas used for cooking/hot water is 0.77 tonnes of CO2e, and that is for 450 Litres (119 US gallons) of a propane/butane mixture. Of that 0.77 tonnes CO2e, I don't really know what portion the showering is but say it is 0.4, then that would be 0.1 tonnes CO2e each for showering which is between 1% and 2% of out total carbon footprint - so it's nowhere near at the level of effect of going vegan which is more like 10%-30% off your carbon footprint.

I used to take cold showers 5 months a year but in the last year or two I've managed to extend it to 7 months a year as I've got more worried about the climate crisis. I live in a hot climate though here in central Chile - it is like living in Spain or Florida or Southern California. I wouldn't do it in a cold place. If I lived in UK or northern US states, I might try for cold showers in July and August only. The cold showers are only really unpleasant for the first three seconds, after that you are used to it, and with a cold shower I clean just as well, finish faster, and save water.

With a hot shower I tend to luxuriate longer than necessary. To help with cutting my carbon footprint, if I am having a hot shower, I usually set a timer for 4 minutes in my phone, and it beeps like mad after 4 minutes, meaning I have to get out after 4 minutes, or sooner. I had to do this because otherwise I just take longer and waste time and CO2.

I shower once a day. I always shower in the morning because I feel grotty and unclean otherwise, and my hair sticks up until I shower, so I would have to spend a few minutes fixing my hair anyway.

Reducing showering to less than 1 per day for water consumption saving or CO2 seems excessive to me.

There is also the concept of navy showers or military showers where you turn off the hot water for the time you add shampoo and soap to your body since the water is often being used inefficiently in that time. That is a reasonable idea, although I don't do it.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:30 am

Jamie in Chile wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:19 pm
There is also the concept of navy showers or military showers where you turn off the hot water for the time you add shampoo and soap to your body since the water is often being used inefficiently in that time. That is a reasonable idea, although I don't do it.
There are also a number of easily installed mechanisms to reduce the water to a trickle at the shower head without messing with the main faucet.
E.g https://www.plumbingsupply.com/shower-h ... ntrol.html

@Red take note of that one (there are probably options on Amazon and your local hardware store too), and installing a low flow head: both super easy. Watch a couple youtube plumbing videos to lean how to use Teflon tape correctly. It's a change you can make in an apartment too.

My approach tends to be more "buy a thing" instead of "do a thing". All about updating your infrastructure to make things green by default rather than more complicated changes in habit. Of course that's not necessarily as accessible to low income/developing countries.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:35 pm

It's also not very accessible to buy stuff if you rent either which is a problem for us.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:46 pm

I was thinking about this, though. People might say that they don't have capital, therefore they can't buy, say, solar panels or a heat pump.

But they can just get a loan.

Now - normally I would say don't get a loan - for most things, e.g. clothes, buying a bigger car, luxury desirable items, a holiday, to me it doesn't make sense to get into debt and risk. Just avoid the spend until you can afford to buy it outright.

But with something like solar panels or insulation or a heat pump, yes by taking on a loan you are going to have to pay x per month back and you are stuck with it and you don't have a choice. But if you DON'T get the loan, you are still stuck with having to pay x per months on electricity or heat anyway. If you get into a bad financial situation, you don't just stop using electricity or heat. In fact, your house is now more valuable hopefully and you can sell it as a way out.

There are a few risks - you install the thing and it doesn't work or you get conned completely or it delivers only half the savings. Or the payback period is impractical. But if you look at this carefully fundamentally the idea of taking out a loan may make sense.

Of course, for people that can't even get credit, that is an another issue.

I think the government should - for low income people only - put solar panels and heat pumps on people's houses for no upfront payment. The government would charge x per month and if all the payments are made after a number of years, say 8 then the home owner becomes the owner of the solar panel. Say by that time the payments equal the up front value of installation of the panel. If the people fall behind on their payments the panels are taken off the house and put them on another one.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:50 pm

Why do you rent rather than buying? There are many more green upgrades you can make to owned property.
Jamie in Chile wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:46 pm
In fact, your house is now more valuable hopefully and you can sell it as a way out.
Unfortunately, not by much. Buyers aren't willing to pay much more, if any more at all, for a greener house. Irrational, but it's the state of the market most places.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:34 pm

Maybe you're right, but I'm not sure. I think if you are going to make a lot of eco investment you need to find someone that thinks like you. Someone else eco that will see the value.

Then there are the people that just like the idea of sinking money in now and have this idea of rising prices of elec and heating and these people just think this is a money winner in a 20-30 year timeframe.

You need to work a bit harder with the marketing or hope to get lucky and find one of those people.

Maybe >90% won't see the value, so you need to find the ones that will.

Not that I have any experience with this mind you.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Jun 17, 2019 11:46 pm

Jamie in Chile wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 7:34 pm
Maybe you're right, but I'm not sure. I think if you are going to make a lot of eco investment you need to find someone that thinks like you. Someone else eco that will see the value.
That's realestate for you.
If you leave the house on the market long enough you'll find somebody who sees the value in solar etc. sure... but at the same time, if you leave it on the market a long time that's a signal that demand for your house at that price is very low and they'll think they can low ball it and get a deal. And they will probably be right, because you're paying property tax and maybe even a mortgage on a house you are no longer living in (or maybe you can't even move until you find a buyer). You very likely have a fire under you and can't just wait years for the perfect buyer.

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Post by Jamie in Chile » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:55 pm

Yeah you want to have the option to take the house off the market and try again 6 months later - by which time almost all people looking won't have seen it being on the market without success before. It's not as good if you need to sell immediately.

But I think you might want to make more of an effort with the sale, not just get an agent or stick it on a website and assume the offers will come in. Do some more inventing marketing.

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