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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Shower time!

Every bit counts. Here’s how you can save resources, time and hassle in the bathroom
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - October 25, 2010
By: Adele Ong
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Shower time!

An instant water heater spares you having to wait for a tank of water to heat up before starting your shower. But it also means letting the water run for a bit before stepping under the shower, because the first few seconds of the flow will emerge at normal tap temperature before heating up.

Yes, we live on the equator. But most modern Singaporeans are too pampered to shower with even tepid water out of our taps. “It’s too cold”, we protest, and insist on at least some heating before we let it splash all over our bodies.

Those with storage water heaters, who remember to switch on the heat long enough before shower time, can enjoy water at the temperature they want from the moment the flow emerges from the shower head.

But whatever heater you have, there are things you can do to make shower-time more efficient, and save water and electricity resources too. This week, we look at showering efficiency.

For a quick, efficient shower
Don’t waste water or time by starting with the shower head pointed in the wrong direction. At best, you’ll spray water out of the shower area and waste it; at worst, you’ll be unexpectedly hit full in the eyes with a blast of water. So before you turn the tap, check that the shower head cradled in its holder is pointed where you want it.

For the first rinse, it is fastest to leave the showerhead in its holder, so you can wet your body quickly. After that first quick rinse, lather up with shampoo or soap. It is usually faster and more sensible to work from the top down rather than from the feet up.

Using shower gel is much speedier than using a bar of soap, and a shampoo-with-conditioner is a lot quicker than shampooing and conditioning separately. Don’t fiddle with container caps that you have to unscrew – go for those with pump-tops, or containers whose tops hold in their contents unless you squeeze.

When you are ready to rinse off, remove the showerhead and point the flow of water all over your body for rinsing that hits all the right spots. If you have washed your hair, however, you may choose to leave it in its holder above so you have both hands free for getting all the shampoo out.

Saving resources in the shower
As part of your effort to help keep the planet in good shape, we install appliances that are billed as energy-saving or water-saving. Water heaters often consume more energy than many other types of household appliances, so if you can find one that helps reduce energy and resource consumption as compared with your existing model, that is good.

However, do not be lulled by the energy-saving labels of any appliance into using it unnecessarily. For example, some people have a habit of leaving their energy-saving lights on even when they don’t need them, because they think that it’s okay – they are using less electricity, right?

Such an attitude defeats the purpose of having an energy-saving appliance in the first place. The most important energy-saving element is, in fact, you. Even if you have lights or heaters which use little electricity compared with other models, please don’t waste the little that is used!

Do not leave the water running while you are shampooing or soaping up. Be conscious of how much water is actually lost. Depending on the water pressure you get at home, the type of water heater and showerhead you have, and how far you turn the tap, your shower could be using anywhere from 5 litres to more than 15 litres of water every minute.

It means that for every five minutes that you leave the shower tap running, you could be using from 25 litres to more than 75 litres of water! If you have the kind of bathroom where your showerhead is installed over a bathtub, try plugging the bath one of these days while you shower, just to see how much water collects in the tub – there’s nothing like visual impact to make a fact sink in.

If you habitually leave the tap running because you are afraid of getting soap or shampoo in your eyes and having to grope blindly for the tap, why not place a face towel within easy reach of you every shower? Then if shampoo gets in your eyes, just grab the towel and wipe the offending suds away!

Bathroom maintenance
If you’ve had a hard day and want to luxuriate under a gentle or vigorous fall of shower water, save it for the after-soaping-up rinse-off. Save as much water as possible by making it a very quick rinse at the start, then turn off the water to soap up your skin or shampoo your hair. After that, turn on the water and turn up the heat, and relax while rinsing off the suds.

But while you’re soothing your senses, are you building up more bathroom-cleaning hassle for yourself? The fact is that places which are kept dry will always stay cleaner than places that get wet, so a bathroom is bound to be one of the parts of the home that needs more maintenance and cleaning.

To make cleaning chores less painful, turn off the heating and rinse down the shower area with water from the showerhead or another bathroom tap after every shower, so that soap scum and marks don’t build up too quickly. Some people even prefer to wipe the shower area with a cleaning rag or sponge after every shower, but others find that too much of a hassle!

Do a more thorough wash weekly or fortnightly, depending on how much human traffic the bathroom sees.

Keep the rest of the bathroom floor as dry as possible. Install shower screens or curtains if you don’t already have them. Place mats on the floor to absorb the water that drips off you when you step out of the shower or bath to towel dry. Wipe up splashes and spills with the mats. Wash the mats regularly.

Keep your shower heater in good shape. If it gives trouble, have it seen to promptly by the manufacturer or a professional electrician experienced with water heater installation and repairs. Don’t wait before the problem turns into a bigger one – you can’t be lazy or careless about maintaining a gadget that combines the use of electricity and water!

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