Toasty House, Hasty Shower (Part I)

Challenge #2: Staying Warm in Winter

Moving from the moist climes of Washington State to San Diego has my “rain clock” screaming most months, even after living over a decade in Southern California. Following eight straight months of bone-dry weather (barring morning moisture dripping off the car), I would love nothing more than to get caught in a huge, thundery deluge, but alas, this fine city is not exactly famous for such weather tantrums. Rather, this is the land of blaring blue skies, buttery breezes, and slathering moisturizer.

To that arid end, my husband and I have always been prudent with our water consumption. We have a water-efficient front-loading washer (I mostly dry clothes on the line), low-flow toilets, and a frugal drip system for the garden. To avoid looking like a convicted felon, Paul showers and shaves each day, and I try to go every other day to save not only water, but also electricity for drying my bison-thick hair. We have a low-flow showerhead, so I did not install the (complicated) one in our Green Family Challenge kit (I’ll pass it forward). About a year ago, Paul invested in a yellow ducky timer (honest!), which is attached to our shower wall (and quite charming, I might add). He has it set for FOUR MINUTES, and incredibly gets his shaving and washing done in that time frame. I take seven minutes, since I skip a day in between.

We have a tankless water heater for the upstairs bathroom, and early on I idly wondered just how much water it takes before the shower is warm enough to step into. We got a 2-gallon bucket, marked off 1 gallon, and now use it to capture the cold shower water as it warms. It takes one gallon of perfectly potable water to get warm enough to stand under. After two showers, the bucket contains almost 10 pounds of precious water, and we schlep it downstairs to pour on the plants in the yard. According to our water bill, we are using 25% LESS water this year than last year (and we were thrifty then, too!), a feat I’m terribly proud of until some blockhead plows his car into a fire hydrant and we have a 4-hour geyser wasting untold gallons of water. Ugh. That makes our water conservation efforts seem futile.

As for the gizmo we were given to install in the shower, I have to say it seemed really complicated, required a battery, looked unwieldy, and sounded like it would use MORE water than our current low-flow strategy because the “alarm” goes off after five minutes, eases up on the flow for two minutes, and gives you more time after that. By then, I’m almost to work!

Stay tuned for the Toasty House, Part 2 coming soon!

Karyl Carmignani

Read Karyl’s previous post, Big Foot Spotted Calculating Her Carbon Footprint.

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