You might love a long soak in the tub or a refreshing shower, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself how much these activities are costing you? It’s often assumed that taking a shower is less expensive than having a bath, but the picture is in fact more complex than this. Here, we break down the costs associated with both options to help ensure you’re in the know when it comes to this crucial aspect of household spending.
There are a number of expenses to factor in when you’re calculating how much your bathing habits will set you back. These include everything from the size of your bath and the temperature you like the water to be, to the efficiency of your gas boiler and the charges you pay for energy and water. Even the temperature of the water inlet to your home will have an impact. As you can see, there are many variables to consider.
To give an approximate idea of how much you may expect to pay however, calculations carried out by Nicola Terry, author of Energy and Carbon Emissions the way we live today, suggest that an 88-litre bath would cost around 36p to run.
Of course, not everyone who baths does so every day. But if you’re one of those who enjoys a soak on such a regular basis, how much of a dent is this making on your finances? Using the cost of 36p for an 88-litre bath, as suggested by Terry, it could cost around £131 over the course of a year should you take a dip every day. Be aware that you may pay significantly more or less than this depending on the factors set out in the previous section.
Showering has long been lauded as the leaner, greener and cheaper alternative to bathing. But the devil is very much in the detail when it comes to this daily ablution. As well as factoring in energy and water costs, the length of the showers you take has a big impact on cost, and so does the type of shower you use. A short shower with a low-flow electric model will cost far less than a longer soak under a power shower, for example.
Research carried out by Unilever found that while a conventional electric shower that used 62 litres of hot water during a typical eight-minute wash costs around 30p in total for water and electricity, power showers can be a very different story. It suggested that an eight-minute power shower uses around 136 litres of water, which is significantly more than it takes to fill a typical bath. The fastest shower recorded in the study used as much water as it takes to fill a standard bath in just four minutes and 42 seconds, and it cost an average of 63p to use per shower.
Importantly though, modern power showers are fitted with aerators or regulators designed to reduce the amount of water used.
Taking the Unilever example of a conventional electric shower, a 15-minute shower using an appliance of this type could cost just over 56p for water and electricity. When we looked at which appliances use the most electricity at home, an electric shower topped the list, so it does use a significant amount of electricity.
For an electric shower lasting 10 minutes, you might expect to pay somewhere in the region of 38p in total.
A shorter soak of just five minutes may set you back just under 19p using an electric shower.
Bear in mind that these figures are estimates for standard electric showers. You may pay more for power showers – and potentially significantly so if you have a power shower without features designed to improve efficiency.
In summary, a quick shower is likely to cost you less than a bath. In fact, according to the Energy Saving Trust, replacing just one bath a week with a five-minute shower can cut your yearly energy bills by as much as £20, and £25 if you have a water meter.
However, this is not a set rule. Certain types of showers use a lot of water relatively quickly and can be more costly than baths. If you prefer showers but want to keep your spending to a minimum, there are a few actions you can take. The simplest thing you can do is to keep the time you spend in the shower fairly brief. Also, if you haven’t already, consider fitting a low-flow or aerated showerhead. If you have a hot water tank, it’s wise to set your programmer to sync with the times during the day that you are most likely to need hot water.
*All figures estimated on Q4 2021 Electricity and Gas Prices UK.
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