Shower Head, Bath and Beyond
Nobody puts baths in the corner! Is there a place for baths in the modern home? How does it reflect our water habits and consumption?
Let’s start by splashing some knowledge around. Did you know Australians are one of the cleanest nations on the planet? 90% of women and 80% of men bathe or shower every day. I know what you’re thinking – who doesn’t shower every day? In China, 50% of the population only clean once a week and only 43% of men and 34% of women in Sweden shower every day. Let’s not judge; we don’t also want to be the smuggest nation.
Did you know daily showering is a modern phenomenon? Associate Professor Stephen Shumack, President of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, looks to history, “It’s only in the last fifty to sixty years (since the advent of bathrooms with showers) that the idea of a daily shower has become commonplace. The pressure to do that is actually social pressure rather than actual need. It’s become popular because of social need to smell good. But it’s only the glands in your armpit and groin that produce body odour. They’re not all over the body.”
While there’s nothing wrong with cleaning every day, the length and method can be problematic for the environment, our pockets and our skin. There’s a common myth that baths use more water than showers. However, that’s assuming we’re not taking excessively long sessions, treating the experience more like a Turkish spa than a means to an end. *COUGH* significant other *COUGH*.
How long are your showers? The average is 8 minutes.
A typical shower uses 9.6 litres per minute. A typical bath carries 80 litres. Therefore, any shower longer than 8.3 minutes uses more water. It’s difficult to know exactly how long our showers are because most take place in the morning. In the hazy dream world after waking up, time doesn’t really have its grip on us yet. Why not challenge yourself. Have a guess and time it, you might be surprised.
This can be problematic as heating 80 litres (or more) of water takes a lot of electricity — more carbon dioxide for our environment and significant energy bills. An eight-minute shower using the average shower flow, average water and electricity costs is 85 cents or 10 cents a minute. No big deal, right? Having one shower a day for a year costs $310. Two people in a household cost $610. And a family of five will cost $1550 a year. The more people living in one home, the more you feel the cost of an 8-minute shower. This is just the electricity cosy of keeping clean, let alone the heating, cooling, appliances etc.
Old shower-heads are like fire hoses; they empty up to 22 litres per minute. Therefore, look to modern (WELS rated) water-saving shower-heads that use as-little-as six litres per minute. Families could save over a hundred thousand litres of water a year, the size of a small swimming pool.
Beyond the bubbles, there is actually a business case for using baths. We typically spend longer in a tub, soaking our stress away. Let’s say we spend an hour in the bath after work; candles lit, incense on, cold drink in hand. Divide that hour by a typical shower and you receive seven times the enjoyment for the same cost of water and electricity. That’s an incredible ROI; the board will be happy.
Be careful though, extended sessions can damage the skin, “While both are great for keeping clean, prolonged lounging in a bath can lead to dry skin,” warned Lauren Ploch, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology.
“Over-washing causes ‘defatting’ of the skin – getting rid of the natural body oils we produce to protect the skin cells. This can cause actual damage making them more permeable to bacteria or viruses, precipitating itchy skin, dryness, flakiness and worsening conditions like eczema.”
Other than soak therapy, baths offer some alluring features:
Laying in the tub with your partner is an excellent way to re-connect, consider it a bubble date!
Beyond Netflix, cooking, gym and sleep, we hardly make time to get into a good book. Until now.
Tubs are like soapy prisons for children. They can splash around all they want, but they aren’t getting out until they’re squeaky clean!
Tubs are like soapy prisons for dogs. They can splash around all they want, but they aren’t getting out until they’re squeaky clean!
Freestanding baths are striking design statements that draw the eye and take you back to a time of Downton Abby.
Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about future buyers who have dogs, kids and an insatiable thirst for wrinkly skin.
What a bath isn’t
But it’s not all bath bombs and fizzles. Showers have become a dominant force in our homes for a reason. And while excluding a bath will put off some buyers, excluding a shower will put off all buyers. So, it’s a question of do you have space for both? And for many, this isn’t possible. Furthermore, showers use half the area, perfect for small bathrooms and en suites.
One thing that baths and showers have in common is they tend to age quicker than other parts of the home. Tiles get old, colours look faded and limescale builds. Whatever your set-up, take an honest look at your bath or shower – maybe it’s time to head to the Home Show!