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Mist Showers: Sustainable Decadence? (lowtechmagazine.com)
78 points by howard941 on Nov 14, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 121 comments



This is really getting ridiculous. By no means is water scarce in many regions of the earth and 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.

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.


The author makes clear it saves water and energy without sacrificing comfort:

"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.


I think it's a reaction to people constantly saying "take shorter showers!" when doing that would have minimal effect on climate change. Industrial and agricultural water use, and pollution, are massive compared to anything a modern city dweller does on a daily basis.


> Industrial and agricultural water use, and pollution, are massive compared to anything a modern city dweller does on a daily basis.

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."

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emis...


What's the point of comparing vehicle emissions to the energy cost of hot showers?

In fact, reducing access to long hot showers might increase vehicle emissions as fewer people would be inclined to bicycle, especially in hot weather.


I'm not. The person I'm replying to said, "industrial and agricultural ... pollution [is] massive compared to anything a modern city dweller does on a daily basis." Many people use this premise as an excuse to avoid making changes in their own lives. However, my point is that it is a false premise. Industrial pollution is actually not massive compared to individual pollution.


Same with plastic. You can shame people who not recycle everything but till companies start reducing plastic packaging nothing will change.


Protip: more things can be done at the same time, than just 1.

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.


>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.

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.


I think you sacrifice a lot of comfort with a mist shower. I enjoy high GPM showers - because it feels really good and it’s one of my favorite things every morning.

hard water makes it difficult to rinse soap off, I imagine it would be even harder in a misting system.


I imagine that all the little mist ports would almost immediately clog with lime scale, and the shower would quickly be reduced to utter uselessness.


If they're anything like the misting irrigation systems, they never clog even if they are literally covered in dirt and mud for most of their life.


Covered is fine, because the water pressure can clear out the path. The problem is stuff inside the pipes.


the ones at a place I worked used reclaimed water. I don't know how well filtered or treated it was, but I know that it would leave horrible water spots all over anyone who parked too close to them.


>hard water makes it difficult to rinse soap off

Isn't it the opposite (i.e. soft water is the problematic one)?


Yes, you’re absolutely correct. I was mistaken.


Hard water makes it difficult to keep mist nozzles unclogged, and I'd also consider whether aerosolizing minerals in the water would be good for lungs, not to mention the potential for added deposition of minerals on surfaces in the shower.


I am with the OP, I think a lot of suggestions come from people with no quantitate intuition. Switching shower tech will not move the needle in any useful way. In fact, think it will be harmful in some ways as it further acclimates a sloppy non-quantitate approach to resource efficiency.


I used mist showerheads in the freshman dorms at Georgia Tech. In my experience, it absolutely was a huge sacrifice of comfort. I was always excited to take a real shower every time I went home for vacation.


> This is really getting ridiculous.

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.


Thea article literally opens with "The daily shower would be hard to sustain in a world without fossil fuels". I don't think that's true, even for 70 L "wasteful" showers.


It is absolutely, completely true that a 70L warm shower for every human being is unsustainable; it even backs it up by comparing the amount of electrical energy needed to heat up that volume of water with the current production of wind energy worldwide.


"Sustainable" or "Unsustainable" are imprecise terms. Our Sun is unsustainable long term if you think in terms of billions of years.

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.


However much I'm in favor of nuclear power, you cannot separate the political environment surrounding it, and as such if it is not politically feasible to transition over to it, then it is not sustainable.

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.


It's obviously not true in a world with nuclear reactors.

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.


You've approached this as if you're concerned that someone will take away your shower. You could also view this article as saying "hey, look at this low-cost and low-resource-intensity way to make luxurious daily showers accessible to more people!"

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).


If you get enough drought daily showers may indeed be threatened - about ten years ago my city took drastic steps to reduce the time spent in showers by distributing 4 minute timers to use as part of a larger effort to reduce residential water consumption.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2009-nov-24-la-me-co...


Water is not scarce, no, but safe and consumable water is; usually that's groundwater, and at this moment groundwater is used at a higher rate than it's being replenished (and remember that it takes hundreds if not thousands of years for e.g. rainfall to become groundwater). There have been instances in hot summers where water pressure has been lowered to reduce consumption. And there's a water crisis in Cape Town (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Town_water_crisis) where they basically ran out of water.

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)


It's not ridiculous at all. Salt sea water is not scarce, but clean fresh water is absolutely scarce in many places on Earth. There's a very good reason why many homes moved towards those 'low flow' showers 30 years ago: wasting less water. As the article points out, wasting less water automatically means wasting less energy (mostly for heating the water, but also cleaning and pumping it).

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[0].

[0] https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/170784-recycling-closed-...


Shower water is going to go into the sanitary sewer, which, if your municipality is smart, is going to discharge upstream of your water treatment intake. Since the sewer and water system would effectively form a mostly-closed loop, reducing the amount of water you dump into the sewer isn't going to have a meaningful impact on the total water you're withdrawing from the environment--it's the lawn care (depending on the aquifer configurations) and agricultural water usage that removes the water from the system entirely.


Are there many municipalities that are that smart? I'm not so sure most municipalities even have separate sewer systems for toilets vs showers. And if they don't, then this is absolutely going to have an impact.

Though I agree that lawn care and agricultural water use are massive issues.


The water system I worked out had their largest wastewater treatment plant discharge at the head of the reservoir for their (admittedly smaller) water treatment plant. If your primary water source is a large nearby lake, there's a decent chance that your wastewater treatment has its output pipe poking at that lake. And if it's a river, even if your output is downstream of your input, chances are that you have a downstream neighbor who is going to be drinking your treated wastewater.


That's not quite a closed system, though. And I'd expect cleaning the water gets harder the more sewage is in it. Besides, a lot of places get their water from underground, which isn't always so easily replenished.


The ridiculous showers are in part a reaction to the limitations of low-flow shower heads. You can get around the limit of 2.5 GPM per head by having multiple heads that add to more than 2.5 GPM.


Water is more scarce than you think. We're depleting groundwater faster than it is being replenished in a _vast_ swath of the country. See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/08/0...

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.


Depleting groundwater is mostly caused by agriculture, which in effect, is literally exporting water. Treated sewage is available for reuse as treated drinking water (sticking your wastewater treatment plant upstream of your water treatment plant makes people less squeamish about the idea), which means that it can form part of a cycle with >95% reuse capability.

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.


There are people that know this. The vast majority of people are totally ignoring it. You can even type this, it will be skipped over. It's an absolute nightmare waiting to happen.


I agree. A low-flow toilet still takes ~5 litres to flush; definitely the obvious thing to do is capture the used shower/sink water into a reservoir that then is used to flush the toilet throughout the day. If the reservoir is inside, then even the energy used to heat the water is not lost, as it will warm the house while the tank cools down.

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.


2-3 showers a week? Maybe if all you do is sit in a sterile room.

One mildly warm commuter train ride and you’re donezo.


I'm a four season bike commuter, so my showers are often in the evening anyway. Especially in the winter, the last thing I want to do is put a helmet on top of damp hair and head out in the snow.


> a fully-grown adult can be perfectly presentable on 2-3 showers a week

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.


Ever try dry shampoo? My hair is growing out long and having a shower every day (especially in the winter) would leave me with a giant dry poof on top of my head. and then wet and freezing on the way to work.

Dry shampoo works great.


I used to shower daily, but after slowly decreasing to 3 showers a week it's actually had a great improvement on both my skin and hair. I've read articles that have mentioned that it may be because showering too frequently strips your skin/hair of beneficial oils and/or bacteria but I'm not sure that's really the case. Either way, I've ended up both saving water and improving my health/appearance by showering less frequently, although it seems counter intuitive


I second this - I have long hair (male), and when I shower every day my hair will become ugly much faster, requiring me to shower every day. Since a years I now take a full shower only every 2 to 3 days (depending on what I physically do), and that's much better for my hair.

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.


I start stinking after ~18 hours no matter what deodorant I use.


Are you using deodorant, antiperspirant, or antiperspirant-deodorant? They are different.

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).


I've used combinations of all 3, and it hasn't really made a difference to be honest. I'm ok with a shower a day and getting 18 hours of coverage - the point I was making was that I still need a shower a day. A lot of people can't get by with less without making people shuffle away from them in public.


I need a couple showers a day or my bedding would start to collect oils & such so much that it starts causing skin issues when I sleep in it. I mean it does anyway but slowly enough that I can go a reasonable amount of time between washing it. A lot of my saved water and energy from showers would just go to washing all my bedding every day or two.

[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.


Review your dietary habits (certain foods will make you stink much more, probably booze as well if I had to guess) and switch to an antiperspirant brand like Certain Dri


Do you use soap, on anything but your hands? That seems to be a prime cause of smelliness, and it's entirely unnecessary.


Yup, I soap all over


"I know the thought is horrifying to some, but a fully-grown adult can be perfectly presentable on 2-3 showers a week."

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.


Yes, obviously some activities trigger the need for a shower. But then that's your shower for the next day or two unless something else comes up.

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.


If you meant “some daily activities make more showers required”, you worded it in a weird way.


The article does put some numbers to the energy needed to heat the water. They estimate it at being equal to driving 3.5 – 7 km with a relatively fuel efficient car per shower. They also say they didn't count the energy costs from water treatment and distribution.

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?


I think people aren't as aware of how power intensive showers are as maybe they should be. It takes roughly 10kw to provide a decent instant hot water shower. That's roughly the output of 40 domestic solar panels at 100% capacity. Of course you can buffer this with a battery bank but getting 10kw worth of inverter is non-trivial and the hit that a battery bank would take from providing that power would be challenging.

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?


> Of course you can buffer this with a battery bank but getting 10kw worth of inverter is non-trivial and the hit that a battery bank would take from providing that power would be challenging.

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 :)


> It takes roughly 10kw to provide a decent instant hot water shower.

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?


Yes, I think you did. Indeed it's almost embarrassingly cheap, about 25p for a 10 minute shower.


> How many people start their showers several minutes before the are actually ready to step into them?

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.


Is it common where you're from to use 10kW water heaters for a shower? We've got that at our cottage (gas-based, not electrical), but that's mainly because there's no grid connection.

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.


At a wild guess I'd say 50% of UK homes would have at least one instant hot water electric shower. The other option being a power shower driven from the hot water loop on their gas central heating.


You can heat water with DC and no inverter. Finding a DC water heater that's safe and inexpensive and voltage swing-tolerant might be a challenge.


To be fair the most sensible way is as a resistive dump load (which as you mention doesn't care whether it's AC or DC) or as someone else mentioned skipping the electrical step altogether and going with a simple solar water heater.


I've often wondered why it wasn't more common to integrate solar water heating within the solar electric panels. My understanding is that as the cells heat up, they lose efficiency, so keeping them cool is important.

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)?


I suspect the reason is you want hot water stored at ~60C. If you pump water through it slowly enough / enough times to attain that temperature then you are actually increasing the temperature of the panels (assuming air temperature is less than that).

You'd need to use a heat pump to get actual hot water from a small delta T in the coolant.


Water isn't really scarce but it is over-extracted and as per typical in this overly individualist society, that gets thrown back on the individual to make tokenistic gestures of self sacrifice by buying more stuff.

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.


> by no means is water scarce in many regions

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?


> And how's their waste water management? (Of which there is a lot more if people shower more).

It is suffering from too little water consumption, actually:

https://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article128369660/Wasserspar-I...

Where can I get one of these magical devices today?

Here, for instance:

https://www.solarbayer.com/solar-systems.html


Good luck getting solar water heaters to heat your 8liter/minute shower in the winter in those places where water is abundant.

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.


It was already ridiculous 10 years ago. The individuals that are receptive to it are already on board. Asking them to shower less or use less in the shower is playing right into the "dirty hippy" stereotype.

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.


I live just outside the English Lake District, a region famous for both its beauty and sheer ridiculous abundance of excess water. It rains a lot round these parts (though that's changing). It's how it got to be the Lake District in the first place.

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.


Fresh water is a scarce resource, but only because it is required to feed the enormous number of plants needed to feed an enormous amount of livestock.


I'll never understand why articles discussing environmentalism are always met with a certain amount of comments where people seem to be angry, offended, or otherwise upset as if they're being personally attacked. The police aren't going to come around forcing you to give up your current shower. Spreading awareness of ways to live one's life in a less wasteful well is a good thing, and the emotionally charged negative comments are a step in the wrong direction


> The police aren't going to come around forcing you to give up your current shower.

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.)


Those manufacturers also write into their instructions "DO NOT REMOVE this easily-removed flow-restricting plastic washer, or drill its hole out to a larger size, or your shower head will no longer conform to maximum flow rate regulations (nudge nudge wink wink)."


I wonder how much of it is based in fear of losing their creature comforts. Anger can definitely stem from perceiving a threat subconsciously and not realizing the cause and effect happening very quickly within your own amygdala/brain.


I admire the passion the author has for mist shower tech, but the "carbon footprint" is a tough argument, especially since we spend so much water "showering" our lawns/yards.[0] That "rain showers" faucet looks pretty slick and I think I might upgrade to that.

[0] Landscaping is the second largest component of water consumption in California at 9% of total use. https://priceonomics.com/california-lawn-watering-economics/


It's not about the water usage on it's own, but more about the energy usage required to heat, treat, and transport the water.

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."


It's definitely about the heat, but it's also about the water usage on its own. There are many places where fresh water is scarce. Cleaning water also takes energy, and in some places, any kind of water is scarce.


I've had a recurring idea to build a water recycling shower. The idea being the water is initially stored in a tank below the shower, pumped up through the shower head and returned to the tank via the drain. A (hopefully) small amount of hot water is added to the tank to maintain the temperature of the water and to introduce more clean water. Some degree of filtering would obviously be required on the return path, at the very least to remove hair which would damage the pump but hopefully also removing soap suds etc.

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.


There's an open source design of this at https://showerloop.org/


Nice. I've tried searching for it before but clearly didn't get the right combination of keywords. Mostly I've found people using the waste water to pre-heat the supply (which itself is a good idea but doesn't solve the water capacity problem).


Have a look at this https://orbital-systems.com/


It makes sense that there's a filter you have to change, but I don't see a lot of information on what the filter is other than an offer to get on a six month subscription service for it, presuming it's a disposable. Hopefully it's not some locked-in proprietary thing, at any rate.

Love the design, though— could definitely picture installing this or something like it in a future bathroom reno.


Does anyone have experience with these nozzles and calcareous water? We get chalky deposits on the kitchen sink, electric kettle, even the surface edge of the fish tank (and that after blending the water for the fishes 1:1 with collected rainwater) in no time and need to remove it frequently. The nozzles look like as if they would be clogged after a few uses, especially as the problem gets worse with warm/hot water. Anyone has experience with that?


When I owned my own house, I installed a set of filters that removed hardness and various "bad things". Fix the problem upstream, so to speak.

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)


Is it possible to install a system that leaves you with "neutral" water? I've looked a bit at filtering systems for my well, but they all seem to involve a water softener and I'd much rather deal with the slight annoyance of hard water than the infinite frustration of showing with soft water.


Adding: My filter system also had a Reverse Osmosis output for drinking water.

Our water was slightly soft to neutral for all other uses.


Yes, you can definitely tweak the composition of the water your filtration system outputs.


It will be an issue indeed. Get a filter system. There are small in-line ones for just before your showerhead, or larger whole-home systems.

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.


Huh, I've never had to deal with hard water in my fishtank(s). Usually I'm adding hardness, not removing it.

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.


I can't say for sure, they are not mine personally. A few are a kind of catfish (small, no longer than 10-12cm). Having such hard water is not great but it would be difficult to do otherwise. They are thriving, in case you were concerned.


I'm not doubting that, mostly just curious. There are entire groups of fish which I cannot keep because I'd need continuous hardness monitoring(, and water replacements would get expensive).


Increased comfort in exchange for increased risk of fatal lung disease sounds like a bad trade-off to me. I think I'll stick with the Navy shower technique, which is already comfortable enough so long as the shower room isn't too cold.


I really appreciate this article. It hasn't sold me on mist showers, but the panorama of alternative showering techniques was eye opening. Maybe the Dutch rain shower is for me.


Having used rain showers at various fancy hotels, I am not a fan of them. The ones I've experienced don't pressurize the water, they just let it fall on you - the experience ends up being closer to standing in the rain than to a shower, and that takes all the enjoyment out of it for me.


Deluge showers are a step above rain showers - and are quite pleasurable.


A reasonable compromise might be one of the high efficiency shower heads that have been around for decades, e.g. the Delta. These gadgets have been around since at least the 1980s, come with an on-off switch to shut off the H2O while you soap down, and cut the flow while increasing the intensity. It's almost ideal. In fact I need to make a trip to the hardware store and pick up a couple to replace the lame heads in our two bathrooms. These types of heads simulate the mister experience but also spray the water quite intensely, almost painfully, if that makes any sense :)

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.


I recall bucky fuller always had mist showers in his future home demos. He always said, and it stuck with me, that his ideas were not for his lifetime, but for when humanity needed them. I think we would do well to catalog these type of ideas for periodic revisitation as the world inevitably changes.


Sounds like a recipe for Legionnaires' Disease to me.


No doubt a mister would basically guarantee you'd aspirate the bacteria if your hot water tank was contaminated. But I'm having difficulty seeing how you wouldn't also aspirate the bacteria with a shower head anyway. Are there a bunch of homes who take showers with legionaries contaminated water that manage to avoid infection?


Thanks, but I'll stick with my Commando 450: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMITcQUe-9M

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.

Notes: 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.


>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.

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?


Can anyone brighter than me tell me the more specific names of the "brass mist nozzles" and "6mm hose adapter"?


I love the idea, being aware that long showers are detrimental to our planet and all!

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.


It would be better to cut energy use during peak time. In Phoenix during the sunmertime that's between 2pm and 8pm. https://srpnet.com/prices/home/tou.aspx


Every city? Certainly not, I remember no such thing where I've lived. Why would they do that?!


You must be living/lived in a very energy conscious city - do you mind if I ask where do you live/lived that didn't have office lights running at night?


Lisbon. There may be exceptions, but I can't think of any office building with more than just a few windows lit late at night. It's probably more due to cost-savings than environmental concerns, though.

The offices I worked on in Brussels and Luxembourg also went dark, but I'm not sure if that was common throughout the city.


Whataboutism and power consumption is not equivalent to water consumption. That said, IDK what city you live in, but most offices I know have energy-efficient lighting (used to be TL, nowadays LED) and motion sensors.

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.


> highlighting how consumers only use a relatively small percentage of power compared to companies - think ... large scale shipping

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...


Pretty much any big city I travelled to London, Seattle, San Francisco just to name a few...walk in the streets of the city by night and you will see what I mean. Sure, power efficient lighting is great and so are sensors but why are the lights on at night? Why are the motion-sensors that are so widespread (most offices you say?) not working to switch the lights off?


I have followed the crowdfund-launched Nebia shower, which looks like a similar mist technology: https://nebia.com

I’ve been curious about it, but it’s kind of hard to try a permanently installed plumbing fixture without buying it.


I have 3 of these installed in my house. they are pretty amazing. Wouldn't go back to a conventional shower head.


Mist showers may be OK for people with short hair, but it's a no-go for those with long hair. You need a decent amount of flow/water pressure to be able to get all shampoo/conditioner out.


I don’t have long hair anymore but also read through this and thought, “this guy must have a shaved head.”

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.


Shaved head and sparse body hair. Even if you aren't that hirsute yourself, try washing a dog with an extra-low-flow showerhead. It's a miserable experience for everyone.


I wonder if those plastic tubes get moldy after a while...


I don't understand the obsession with sending civilization back to the stone age for the sake of "sustainability". I like hot showers. I would rather focus on new technology that makes producing fresh hot water in abundance nearly free and with minimal impact to the environment.


The question is whether we can keep our current lifestyle until such technology exists.




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