So yes, warm water consumption might be a thing in ever denser megacities, but please stop to greenshame every single habit of an industrial society and simply reconsider the typical source of energy. For small houses, solar thermic or photovoltaic collectors should do just fine, for bigger ones, consider distributed heat networks or small scale combined powerplants. And should you live in an area, where water is indeed a scarce resource, make a distinction between greywater and wastewater.
"Jonas writes about his shower that 'it is not all a compromise in comfort, as it is sometimes suggested in the research papers of the 1970s' and I totally agree."
So substantially more efficient with no loss of living standard.
As for energy: " . . . while there is a certain amount of energy needed to heat the water for a daily shower it is very simple to obtain from carbon-neutral sources." All energy can be obtained from carbon-neutral sources, but as it's fungible, all savings are beneficial. Conservation is the lowest hanging fruit.
I think your greenshaming diatribe is more personal.
Maybe, but people minimize the impact of day-to-day living. Which do you think is higher: US carbon emissions from passenger vehicles, or US carbon emissions from freight trucks, ships, trains and airplanes combined?
In fact, it is passenger vehicles. Does your modern city dweller drive to work every day instead of taking transit? Individual choices really do have a real impact, it's not all due to industry and agriculture. Don't minimize the impact of individual choices.
Source, US EPA:
"The Transportation sector includes the movement of people and goods by cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes, and other vehicles. The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from the combustion of petroleum-based products, like gasoline, in internal combustion engines. The largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans. These sources account for over half of the emissions from the transportation sector. The remaining greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector come from other modes of transportation, including freight trucks, commercial aircraft, ships, boats, and trains, as well as pipelines and lubricants."
In fact, reducing access to long hot showers might increase vehicle emissions as fewer people would be inclined to bicycle, especially in hot weather.
The best reading, this is a case what we would call "whataboutism". Do note, packaging companies and excessive use of single-use plastics is horrible and absolutely should get fixed.
But one can also make local changes about your life that also reduce your impact. Well, if you care.
Not sure I necessarily buy that. Easiest fix in many cases with the lowest impact in terms of lives to directly change should be happening higher in the industrial chain to start with.
There is little or no point to trying to change things in the immediacy of the end consumer until the upchain effects of getting industry in check have settled out, as the situation then may have completely changed from the current day to day consumer reality.
>Protip: more things can be done at the same time, than just 1.
Yes, things can be done in parallel. No, there is a certain point where if you start pushing the pain on the consumer first without reining in industry, you'll end up with the better environmental cost delta amplifiers (industry) creating more problems for the consumer to have to fix/compensate for.
Example: People want alternate ways to heat water, therefore tanks/plumbing systems supplies capable of making solar based heating become more popular. The parts to make that consumer change possible though rely on an industrial process that ends up outputting more carbon than people save through the solar water heating system.
What you want is:
Figure out ways that industry isn't mitigating carbon debt in satisfying current demand. Tweak those to rein things in and figure out how the consequences propagate out and how it impacts consumer behavior. Then rinse and repeat.
Remember, if you create a hole through consumer behavior changes alone, all it does is signal capital into the most expedient form for utilizing current technology to try to create new demand from the change of the economic landscape. If your current technology was part of the problem your consumer behavior change was meant to remedy, you just ticked off a bunch of people when the actual figures come out saying you didn't realize the payoff, and you further hurt your credibility in suggesting additional changes. Once you have everyone playing to the same tune industrially, the societal approach to conservation and what can or can't be done fundamentally changes.
I hope that makes sense.
hard water makes it difficult to rinse soap off, I imagine it would be even harder in a misting system.
Isn't it the opposite (i.e. soft water is the problematic one)?
What's getting ridiculous here is the definition of "greenshaming". If you find the mere description of a more energy efficient alternative shameful, that's on you, not on the author of the article.
> By no means is water scarce in many regions of the earth
And in many places it is. What's your point?
The point of the blog is to point out and remind us of low-tech and obsolete solutions to conserve energy and depletable resources. As the article points out, you can "steamify" a regular shower at low cost and waste less freshwater. Whichever energy source you use to heat water then, you'll need less of it.
What matters to many people here is whether a given use of energy makes a significant difference in present contributions to anthropogenic climate change.
There's an unfortunate tendency for environmentalist folks to pile on to the idea of preventing climate change as validation for their views and to speak as if all actions which can be undertaken to benefit the environment are equally important to prevent a climate apocalypse. They are not.
Personally, I'm in favor of widespread use of Nuclear generating stations. They're sustainable for millennia in terms of fuel abundance and the needed storage space for waste as well as being very low emitters of CO2 even when you amortize the amount of greenhouse gases generated during construction over their lifetime.
Sustainability doesn't just live in the bubble of what's physically possible. A global population of 500 million people living in a first-world standard of living is also quite sustainable, but you're not gonna get a lot of people in favor of a depopulation movement either.
In fact, widespread use of nuclear would make hot water cheaper for everyone and greatly reduce wastewater production - used water (even sewage) could be distilled into clean water vapor and dry, sterile biological matter with enough clean energy.
Then we just need to add some minerals back into the water to make it perfectly tasty and healthy to drink.
There's a huge number of people around the world who want better lives, the true challenge of the environmental crisis is how that can be delivered without trashing nature (and maybe inadvertently destroying our own civilisation).
So while most of us live fairly comfortably with running water, it's not something to take for granted. We had a long, very dry summer last year and it still has an effect on a lot of things. (in our case, dikes dried out too much which weakened them, enough to cause a problem in case of floods)
Unfortunately the savings from those more efficient showers from 30 years ago have been undone by those fancy rain showers that everybody wants nowadays.
Fortunately there are also rain showers that recycle the unused water; most shower water goes down the drain completely unused and quite clean. These shower systems recycle the clean water and as a result use much, much less water per minute.
Though I agree that lawn care and agricultural water use are massive issues.
Even in regions where surface water is plentiful, making water fit for human use is a _significant_ user of energy. Even if it was cold water, it takes a lot of energy to pump water, filter water, and treat water after use.
Reducing the amount in that flow doesn't do much to solve the water stress issues, particularly if people choose to reduce that component instead of the other components (such as lawn care) that actually do matter greatly.
But whenever I've looked into greywater capture systems, they seem mostly focused on an outdoor storage drum with rain-barrel type applications in mind (garden irrigation, etc).
I mean, the other option is just not to have a shower every single day. I know the thought is horrifying to some, but a fully-grown adult can be perfectly presentable on 2-3 showers a week.
One mildly warm commuter train ride and you’re donezo.
My hair is very much not presentable (in the flat, not sticking up all over the place, way in which I'm accustomed to presenting it) without a morning shower.
Some time at a sink may flatten it, and I accept that the resultant few-hours-later oiliness may not be present if that were normal instead of it being 'used' to being washed every day, but I really doubt that I would use much - if at all - less water flattening my hair at a sink than washing it, and then the rest of me as the water is subjected to gravity, in a shower.
Dry shampoo works great.
With some shampoos I have huge problems with my hair and would need to shower as much as twice a day. I think Head&Shoulders was pretty bad in that regard (it was fine for a year or two, but at some point became a problem - maybe the altered their formula).
Of course I take additional showers when necessary (e.g. cycling to work or hot summer days), but even then I often get by with short showers and even omitting my hair. To be fair, I don't sweat heavily.
Deodorant is used to "cover up" or present a different odor; it's closer to perfume or cologne, just in a different form.
Antiperspirant is used to keep you from perspiring; the most common form works by simply clogging the pores (temporarily). By itself, it does nothing for any other body odors.
Combine them (the last option) and you get the best of both worlds. The only time you would use them separately is if in the first case, you have a different form of antiperspirant that you like to use vs your deodorant, or you have a particular perfume or cologne that doesn't go well together with the antiperspirant you like to use. But most people can find a combo that smells nice and works well for most of the day (and may even work well with their perfumes/colognes).
All that said - if you are doing outdoor activities or hard labor, little to nothing will work to stop things altogether, and honestly, 18 hours is pretty good strength in my opinion.
But - if things are really problematic - talk to your doctor. Make sure it isn't some physiological issue, or your diet (as recommended by another poster), or anything else. As a last resort, there are drugs and even surgery available for extremely severe issues (usually for those who perspire uncontrollably throughout the day and night).
[EDIT] of course I could clean off some other way, too, but dropping to only bathing in any serious fashion less than once a day is not something I'm much interested in trying, for this reason if no other.
That's a very boring and sedentary life you're describing.
Not muddy/dusty from bike rides / trail runs ...
Not covered in sawdust / motor oil / gunpowder residue ...
Not covered in other peoples' body fluids from wrestling / boxing / BJJ ...
It's not a horrifying thought, not showering every day - it's a depressing thought.
FWIW, I am a four-season bike commuter (yay studded tires), I have young kids, and I occasionally get myself covered in sawdust in the basement, or covered in dirt in the garden, or covered in flour in the kitchen. But those are the exceptions, not every day.
And they also point out that all of the current wind turbines in the world could only power 1 billion people's daily shower, only considering the heating of the water...
If there's a way to reduce the cost of showering without any significant decrease in quality of life, why not encourage it?
Taken another way it's the same amount of energy as it required to propel a scooter or small motorcycle along at 50mph.
How many people start their showers several minutes before the are actually ready to step into them?
Or you could just slowly heat water in a well insulated tank. And if you paint your tank black and put it in the sun, you may even be able to skip the PV panels :)
Electricity is currently about 12¢/kwh, or 1¢/5kwm. If I'm doing the math right, that means that a 10-kwm shower costs all of tuppence. That's a small percentage even for folks in the world living on a couple dollars a day — it's basically free for those of us in the Western world.
Did I get the math right?
The norm in Shanghai is that the bathroom contains a small water heater with a tank of water that is kept heated at all times.
The shower then draws simultaneously from the heated water and from the regular supply of cold water. You're not supposed to draw exclusively from the hot water -- if you do, the tank will run out in a few minutes.
When the preheated water runs out, your shower will go cold until you let the water heater refill and recharge.
Everywhere else I've been, people just use tanks. It might take a few hours to heat up from nothing, but even a mid-sized tank can easily do 2-3 showers.
So - mount them to a heatsink (waterblock) with a water (or more likely coolant) loop running thru them to transport that heat to a water tank for showers or other heating use.
There's got to be a good reason why this isn't done that I don't know about (maybe it really isn't that efficient, or solar cells don't heat up that much, or something else)?
You'd need to use a heat pump to get actual hot water from a small delta T in the coolant.
The correct solution to over-extraction is political policies that put the health of the whole environment, including surface and ground water, above the selfishness of industry.
What regions have this apparent overabundance of drinking water? And how's their waste water management? (Of which there is a lot more if people shower more).
> while there is a certain amount of energy needed to heat the water for a daily shower it is very simple to obtain from carbon-neutral sources.
Is it? Where can I get one of these magical devices today? And do they work reliably in all climates? Specifically in those where drinking water is apparently abundant and where waste water treatment is free?
It is suffering from too little water consumption, actually:
Where can I get one of these magical devices today?
Here, for instance:
The article discusses a realistic approach to save large amounts of energy and to bring more comfort to water/energy poor regions. You, on the other hand, are peddling a fantasy.
You may not be able to smell the difference on an extreme-water-saving hygiene regime, but those who do take regular showers, using as much water as necessary, can detect it. Sesqui-daily (morning, evening, skip, repeat) "Navy showers", taken cold, are probably the best one can do without sacrificing inoffensiveness towards the end of the inter-bathing interval, as measured by a nose that is not already acclimated to your specific body odor. This requires a shower head with a powerful, relatively narrow spray, to blast the soap off fast, even with hard water.
If you are not on board a ship with a limited supply of fresh water, or living in a bona fide desert, or experiencing a lengthy drought, it is not necessary to attempt this. Your individual contribution to freshwater usage is entirely insignificant compared with industrial and agricultural use. Every shower you will ever take during your entire lifetime is likely to be less than 4 acre-feet in total. California alone uses more than 30 million acre-feet of irrigation water every year. Great Plains farms collectively use enough water to deplete one of the largest underground aquifers on the planet.
It's not you. If you really want to conserve, invent or improve an irrigation scheme, with installation and operating costs as cheap as center-pivot, that uses 1% less water. Then you could shower every waking moment of the rest of your life, under a 5 gpm showerhead, and still come out ahead on planetary karma.
Let me tell you what's ridiculous.
Local news is telling how we can soon expect water shortages as rainfall patterns change and the entitled in water-deprived London get increasingly frequent in calls to take ours or our neighbours in God's own country - Yorkshire, as it's long past time for a national water grid etc. Purely because they are running out and not trying to manage their use.
The south east's main water utility isn't being fined £100m a day for all the leaks they aren't fixing (apparently they have a terrible record, one of the worst in the country - if not the worst, for fixing leaks). I see no building regulations mandating greywater recovery in the short of water south east, or heat exchange from waste water. Just increasing calls to take someone else's and give them a water shortage problem too. Then no doubt continue ever wider until everyone has a water shortage.
A little way south of here, Coca bleeding Cola (or maybe Pepsi, I forget) stuck in the most ridiculous plant to produce clever water. Apparently without limit. Extract millions of gallons yearly, distil it to purify it - at massive energy waste, then add a precise recipe of ingredients and minerals unrelated to the spring source they took it from. What's the fucking point of that? Just use the tap anywhere on the planet. Oh wait, they'd have to pay for their resource waste by the litre then.
I think it is more accurate to say: Every single habit of industrial society has deliberately forgotten the connection with inputs, planet, sustainability, with encouragement from commerce and government. Once those inputs were always implicit in an activity, now it's an "externality" that can conveniently be ignored and pretend it doesn't matter. Few individuals have any connection with where stuff comes from any more, or the underlying cost. That is where the shame should lie. That's how everyone got in this mess - of resource depletion, climate heating, species loss, habitat loss and all the rest in the first place. All in my lifetime.
So no, discouraging profligate waste is not ridiculous - regardless of if a mist shower is a practical idea or not. Probably easier to shower every other day as unless you work down a mine you're unlikely to actually need daily.
In short, sustainable needs to be everywhere, in everything, always.
I mean, they did do that? Federal law from 1992 mandates the gpm flow of shower heads. The law says:
> "all faucet fixtures manufactured in the United States restrict maximum water flow at or below 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi."
In 2005 the feds had to pay a visit to a shower head manufacturer last decade to force them to stop producing non-conforming shower heads: https://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Seattle-says-shower-...
Literally the police aren't going to come around forcing you to give up your current shower, they're just forcing all companies to produce and sell only certain kinds of showers.
Why wouldn't a reasonable person who cares about something like this feel personally attacked? They already were attacked! There seems to be no reason to assume that federal law that already exists around this issue won't tighten more. In their eyes you're basically saying: "Why are people worried the government will interfere with [things they've been interfering with for decades]?"
(note I personally don't care about this issue, but it seems like there's already a history of forcing XYZ on people here, so it seems natural that people would resist further intrusion or whatever. "What if that's good" is a separate argument.)
 Landscaping is the second largest component of water consumption in California at 9% of total use. https://priceonomics.com/california-lawn-watering-economics/
According to the article "Hot water production accounts for the second most significant use of energy in many homes (after heating), and much of it is used for showering."
I'm not sure if it would really work but it seems like it would be ideal for some situations, for example in motorhomes, small yachts etc.
Love the design, though— could definitely picture installing this or something like it in a future bathroom reno.
In rented accommodation, it would depend on the landlord, unfortunately. (I'm sure there are many great landlords out there, but there are also a lot of bad ones who do the absolute minimum to avoid judicial penalties)
Our water was slightly soft to neutral for all other uses.
Many options exist, start with a water analysis, and go from there. You may benefit from a 'softener' more than a filter system.
I find a cheap cleanable particulate filter placed before any media type filter to increase efficiency and lifespan.
What sort of fish do you keep? I imagine tetras wouldn't do too well in that, so that's my favorite setup out the door.
Regarding energy use, it seems to me that solar thermal is the way to go; you can keep your tank pretty hot during the day and if it's properly insulated, should minimize energy use at night. If you're showering early in the morning, though, you'll probably be burning some fossil fuel, but if you can time your showers to be mid-day or evening, would be optimal.
In Phoenix, probably every fifth house has solar hot water; it just makes economic sense. When we traveled in the Middle East (mainly Israel), every house and apartment building seemed to have solar hot water. If it makes economic sense (and the tax credit also helps), people will adopt it. I'd be reluctant to support some kind of mandated regulatory approach that forces a less pleasant shower experience on everyone; as others here have mentioned, the shower is one of life's great luxuries.
But seriously, even I get concerned with the green movements when they seem to be coming for each part of my life I hold sacred-- a nice warm shower (or two!) is a highlight of my day.
And to rationalize: I am also constantly looking for ways to reduce energy usage, so I looked into capturing the heat lost from a shower. First I measured the difference in the shower head outlet temperature and the drain temperature. I found about 75% of the heat is released before even entering the drain. So it goes into my body (yay), the air, or the floor system. I suspect the majority of the next 25% is released in the drain system that is either part of the conditioned space of the house or in the semi-conditioned crawlspace. So the heating cost/fuel of the water is offsetting my HVAC cost/fuel. Additionally, the shower boosts humidity which is the #1 energy efficient method of feeling warmer in a cold, dry house.
If you can leave the water to cool down by not draining a tub, you'll gain even more. Or take a bath.
If you're using electricity to resistant-heat your water (highly inefficient), you should address that first.
This doesn't apply in the summer, so I bathe in the outdoor pool, usually.
How is this article an example of "coming for each part of your life" you hold sacred? Did they state, or even imply, anywhere in the article that they were going to go around and force people to be environmentally conscious?
However, IMHO, there are things we could do that would impact energy savings on a 100x scale compared to showering with a mist shower. First thing that comes to mind, those hundreds of big offices in every city, that keep their lights on, on every floor (!!), every single night.
The offices I worked on in Brussels and Luxembourg also went dark, but I'm not sure if that was common throughout the city.
If you do want to make a "what about" point though, highlighting how consumers only use a relatively small percentage of power compared to companies - think any IT company with datacenters, large scale shipping, but also Bitcoin and co - and shaming individuals into stuff like using less water, going vegetarian or change their bulbs is putting the blame in the wrong direction.
It's actually not as lopsided as you think. Passenger vehicles in the US emit more carbon than all freight trucks, trains, ships and airplanes combined. Here is a good breakdown of the sources of emissions in the US from the EPA. It's very much worth a read. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emis...
I’ve been curious about it, but it’s kind of hard to try a permanently installed plumbing fixture without buying it.
In order to rinse hair clean, you need quite a bit of water. If the shower is too low-flow (like dorm or gym showers often are in California), it takes much longer to do a good job, which kinda defeats the purpose of saving water.