Spend it Better: Dive into the water-saving properties of submarine showers

Our solar panels heat almost all our water on sunny days. They connect us to the seasons

On a submarine there’s zero capacity for multiple leisurely hours in the shower so it’s 10 seconds to wet, 10 seconds to lather and 10 seconds to rinse

On a submarine there’s zero capacity for multiple leisurely hours in the shower so it’s 10 seconds to wet, 10 seconds to lather and 10 seconds to rinse

 

There have been emails, phonecalls, then a friend’s Dad knew someone who might do the job. But we are still no closer to installing a heat pump in our retrofitted home. Blocks of apartments or newly-built estates seem to be where it is at. Individual householders trying to go fossil-fuel free – I hope you’re getting luckier than I am.

So we’re trying to use less of the gas that heats our water. And here (adopt a speedy “terms and conditions” reading voice) is where we remember individual actions can only go so far and big policy shifts are needed. But in the meantime I’m a little obsessed with submarine showers. They take 30 seconds, according to engineer Ken Alhambra’s nifty Bath vs Shower Footprint Calculator which lets you work out the size of your wrinkly post-bath footprint. On a submarine there’s zero capacity for multiple leisurely hours in the shower so it’s 10 seconds to wet, 10 seconds to lather and 10 seconds to rinse.

Our solar panels heat almost all our water on sunny days. They connect us to the seasons. Even on dull mid-summer days the water never runs stone cold from the hot tap. Sometime in late autumn the angle changes and we can feel the chill coming. They’ve been sitting on the roof for 13 years and have paid for themselves in savings. Many of our hot showers are free but it’s not an inexhaustible supply.

Showers need to be short, rather than epic ones that leave us hammering on the door like central casting TV ad parents. So I’ve outsourced my nagging to a nifty little gadget from Galway-based company Renergise (renergise.ie).

It’s a five minute shower timer in the shape of a water drop. It costs €16.99 with postage . You press it when you start your shower (and we’re still not getting full compliance on this part of the process). A blue light comes on. As five minutes comes to an end a red light starts flashing. It’s both a metaphor for the state of the world and an attempt to ensure that everyone gets their fair share of the hot water. The shower hoggers (in both the domestic and global sense) know who they are.

We are locked in a horrible clinch with fossil fuels now but as we transition out of their grip we can all use less of them. Walk, cycle or use the bus, implement a five-minute shower regime, or be a real radical and go full submariner in your shower. Jokes about periscopes optional. Your energy bills will thank you.

Catherine Cleary is co-founder of Pocket Forests

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