As the community becomes more environmentally aware, Alice Wang and I decided to pitch in and make a difference here in Carmel, Carmel High School to be exact.
We set out to determine what change would make the biggest impact. We identified our school’s biggest waste to be water and decided that the most beneficial change would be to install new low flow shower heads.
When we shared our idea with the school administrators, we discovered that the school had also noticed this issue and was planning to take action. In fact, not only did the school want to purchase new shower heads, but it also thought to install push buttons as the on/off switch (each push would turn on the shower for one minute) to insure that showers turn off when not in use, a wonderful idea. However, these new shower heads and shower systems are very costly, so we agreed to split the cost—the two of us would pay for the showers in one locker room and the school would be responsible for the others. We applied for and received a $750 grant provided by the Carmel Green Teen and turned the money over to the school. Carmel High School installed the new showers over spring break and is currently saving money and the environment.
But how do low flow shower heads help the environment? A typical shower head uses 6-8 gallons per minute (gpm), while a low flow shower head uses only 2.5 gpm. That means, for a 10 minute shower, 45 gallons of water are saved. The switch to low flow can save more than 15,000 gallons per year—and that’s assuming only one 10 minute shower each day! With long showers from hundreds of people at Carmel High (school swim team, Carmel Swim Club, Physical Education students, and recreational swimmers), the savings really add up. With the new shower heads, the school is using less water and creating less waste and pollution.
However, Carmel High School isn’t the only place that can make a difference. Installing low flow shower heads is a quick and easy way to save water and money in your own home! Coming in many varieties, low flow shower heads are low cost and easy to install (step by step instructions can be found online). We encourage (and dare) everyone to help make Carmel greener, one shower at a time!:
Top photo: Tiffany Wang calculates the gallons per minute used by the older shower heads in the CHS swim team locker room.
Bottom photo: The new shower heads at Carmel High School save 45 gallons of water with every 10-minute shower.
Green Shower Power Survey Results
Carmel Swim Team uses the showers twice a day, every day of the week. Although the changes from a 2.75 GPM shower head to a 2.5 GPM shower head seems insubstantial…the gallons do add up!
For instance, in a random survey of the swim team members….
- The average shower was 14 minutes long
- The average person came to swim practice 7 times a week, using the shower twice a day for each.
In the Carmel Swim Team alone, there are 140 members (82 girls, 58 guys). That means that if we calculate the gallons of water used with the original showers that had an average of 2.75 GPM….
2.75 GPM x 14 minutes per shower= 38.5 gallons wasted in one shower.
38.5 gallons x 140 swim team members= 5,390 gallons wasted after one swim practice.
5,390 gallons after one practice x 2 swimming practices per day= 10,780 gallons used in 1 day!
10,780 gallons in 1 day x 7 days used in a week= 75,460 gallons used in 1 week!!
Let’s compare this to the new shower heads installed. These have 2.5 GPM.
2.5 GPM x 14 minutes per shower= 35 gallons wasted in one shower.
35 gallons x 140 swim team members = 4,900 gallons wasted in one swim practice.
4,900 gallons after one practice x 2 swimming practices per day= 9,800 gallons used in 1 day!
9,800 gallons in 1 day x 7 days used in a week= 68,600 gallons used in 1 week!!
75,460-68,600 = 6,860 gallons!
This means in one week…just by making this small change we save 6,860 gallons! That’s about the amount of water the average American flushes down the toilet in 1 YEAR!!!
However, when asked whether or not they felt that their water usage was wasteful, 80% of people felt that their water usage was not wasteful.
****Keep in mind; these estimates are probably conservative estimates too! We did not account for the fact that our random survey was mostly composed of guys, and not the girls who take the notoriously long showers. The total water savings are probably higher too as we asked how long did they actually use the showers—not how long the shower heads were on. (One of the comments from the survey answered that he/she did not like the push buttons because he couldn’t just leave the water running during practice so that the water would heat up when he got back!) A large amount of water savings will probably be derived from the fact that with the push button, people are more likely to take shorter showers because it is annoying to constantly push the button. Also, the swimmers can’t just leave the water running while they go do something else.
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