There's a tricky balance to getting your shower temperature just right. Too cold, and you're in for an unpleasant shock. Too hot, and you can scald yourself. That's why most people turn the shower on before getting in and wait for it to reach their preferred temperature. Unfortunately, that means a lot of heated water is going straight down the drain. However, with a technological update to your shower fixture plumbing, you can conserve that water and cut down on your utility bills. Read on to learn how thermostatic fixtures can help you get the water temperature just right.
Waiting for the Warmth
The EPA estimates that about 20 percent of every shower is completely wasted while the bather waits for the water to hit the correct temperature. At an average shower time of eight minutes, and 2.5 gallons of water per minute coursing through a conventional shower head, that's about four gallons of water that never goes to use. And it’s not just water going to waste – you're burning energy to heat it up, creating a double-whammy of inefficiency.
Some people even leave the bathroom while they wait for the hot water to reach their shower fixture. Plumbing variables affect how long the heated water takes to arrive – how far the shower is from the hot water heater, your home’s water pressure and the diameter of the pipes can all conspire to make it a long wait. The bigger the home, the longer it takes – and if you get distracted, you're liable to let the water run at full heat for several minutes before jumping in. That's where heat-sensing shower heads come in.
Hitting the Heated Sweet Spot
Certain brands manufacture shower fixture plumbing with thermostatic shutoff valves built in. That means that when the water reaches a certain temperature, the flow shuts off until you manually instruct it to continue. That way, if your shower takes a long time to heat up, you can turn on the water, go about your business and the shower head will help you reduce waste by not releasing the hot water until you’re ready for it. Though you still technically waste water by allowing it to heat up, at least you aren't squandering excess heat energy as well.
According to the EPA, the average family uses about 17 percent of their household water in the shower, comprising 30 gallons a day. In total, Americans consume 1.2 trillion gallons of water in the shower every year. That's an enormous number, especially with many parts of the country facing historic droughts – so every bit of savings counts.
In Addition or Stand Alone
There are various options for heat-sensing technology – you can buy valves to add to your existing shower fixture plumbing or purchase stand-alone thermostatic shower heads. And if you want to capture the wasted cold water as well, you can look into a greywater recycling system that will reroute it to the toilet or irrigation system.
If you need any advice on installing water-saving devices in your shower fixture plumbing, contact a local plumber today.