Bath vs Shower: Which Actually Uses Less Water?

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"Not sure whether baths or showers use less water? Here's what research says—plus tips for decreasing the amount of water you use."

The million-dollar question is: bath vs shower—which is better for the planet? There’s an argument for both sides. But one thing is for sure: the infamous shower, bath, shower method, in which someone showers before taking a bath and then showers again after, is definitely the worst.

Regardless of whether you prefer showers or baths, we have some great tips on lowering your overall water usage, which saves you some money and lowers your overall water footprint.

Bath vs Shower: Which Is Better for the Planet?

bath vs shower

On one side of this argument, baths seem to be more eco-friendly. In a bath, you get to control how much water is used, and no water is wasted. On the other hand, there’s the shower. Is it really possible that the average shower uses more water than filling a tub? There isn’t a simple answer.

When figuring out which is better for the planet, we need to consider a few things: water usage, electricity to heat the water, the size of your tub, and how long the water is running.

Depending on where you live, the cost of water and electricity can vary. Typically, bathing in the tub can use around 30 to 58 gallons of water. A shower with a low-flow showerhead may use only 25 gallons every 10 minutes—and without a low-flow showerhead, around 5 gallons of water goes down the drain each minute.

So which is better: bath or shower? The short answer is that it depends. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the best option for the environment is a quick shower. If the water is only running for 5 to 10 minutes, you’re using less water and less electricity than it takes to fill the average bathtub.

That being said, most of us find showers relaxing, and we aren’t always racing to get in and out in under 10 minutes. So if you’re showering for more than 10 minutes, it’s better for the planet (and your water bill) to take a bath.

Tips for Using Less Water

bath vs shower

1. Get a Low-Flow Showerhead

Research shows low-flow showerheads are worth the investment. In 2014, Kennesaw State University swapped all showerheads to low-flowing options and saw major changes at the end of the year.

The overall water usage was down by around 28%—that’s over 660,000 gallons! The change also lowered the school’s water bill by around $6,500. Though the cost to install these showerheads was just over $9,000, the investment pays off right away.

2. Avoid Distractions

Remember the episode of Seinfield when Kramer spends hours and hours in the shower, even going as far as to phone his friends, make meals, and install a garbage disposal in the tub?

We can’t say exactly how many gallons of water he used in that episode, but it was definitely too much. It’s easy to get distracted in the shower or bath, especially when using luxurious soaps and face masks. Avoiding distractions is a simple yet effective way to keep your showers short.

3. Use the Drain

Curious about how much water you’re really using in the shower? Plug the drain next time to find out! By plugging the drain, you can see exactly how much of the tub is filled. If you notice the water filling to the top, that could be a sign you’re using too much water.

4. Have a Bucket for Cold Water

We’re all guilty of letting the water run for a few minutes before we hop in the shower. Naturally, most people want to avoid cold showers. Instead of letting the water go down the drain, have a bucket catch whatever isn’t warm enough for your shower. You can use this extra water for watering plants or cooking.


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Not sure whether baths or showers use less water? Here's what research says—plus tips for decreasing the amount of water you use.

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