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April 10, 2024
Water Conservation

High shower pressure can help people save water, study suggests

High pressure shower head

Replacing a feeble trickle with a powerful surge in the shower might appear like an environmentally indulgent choice, but researchers suggest it could actually lead to water savings. Water usage has emerged as a significant environmental concern due to resource shortages and the carbon footprint associated with its extraction, treatment, distribution, and, in most cases, heating for showers.

Experts now reveal that showers with higher pressure are linked to reduced water consumption, while incorporating a timer in the shower could further aid in conservation efforts. “While adopting low-flow fixtures could enhance shower efficiency and contribute to achieving net-zero objectives, it shouldn’t be the sole focus,” the researchers argue.

Their research, available as a preprint and awaiting peer review, involved installing sensors in 290 showers across the University of Surrey campus, gathering data from 86,000 individual shower sessions. Although some showers were notably lengthy, the average duration was found to be 6.7 minutes, with half of them ranging from 3.3 to 8.8 minutes.

Combining the duration of each shower with the flow rate allowed the team to calculate water usage. Results indicate that showers with higher pressure were associated with lower water consumption, regardless of flow rate. Professor Ian Walker of the University of Swansea, a co-author, noted instances of showers exceeding one hour in duration but emphasized that these were exceptions.

High-pressure showers, coupled with timers, demonstrated the most efficient water usage, consuming an average of 17 litres per shower, compared to nearly 61 litres for low-pressure showers without timers. The team underscored the role of visible timers in preventing shower times from gradually extending over time.

Nevertheless, the study, which received industry feedback, has limitations, particularly regarding its applicability in domestic settings. Further research is warranted to elucidate the mechanisms behind the link between water pressure and consumption and determine the threshold beyond which higher pressure no longer yields water-saving benefits.

Cameron Brick, an environmental psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, praised the study’s objective data collection but stressed the need for clarity on why high pressure leads to shorter showers. He suggested future studies could explore changing water pressure within households to provide additional insights for policy recommendations.

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