Back in the days of old, taking a warm shower was a luxury that few could afford on a regular basis. Water had to be fetched from a well or stream, then heated by fire from wood chopped by hand in the forest (assuming there was one nearby). It took a lot of effort to make it all happen, but oh, how sweet the reward!
As an adventurous teenager, I lived briefly in a small, humble abode (actually the term shack is more accurate) on the slopes of the dormant Haleakala volcano on Maui. There was no running water inside, but plenty outside in the form of a small mountain stream. A short walk down a verdant path, through trees laden with fruit, led to a clear, natural pool at the base of a semi-circular twenty-foot cliff. From the top, a beautiful waterfall poured into the pool – my personal, all natural shower.
At first glance, this seemed idyllic. However, after a several showers in the decidedly cool water, the novelty began to wear off, replaced by a growing appreciation for something I had previously taken for granted.
The point of these brief musings is to provide a bit of perspective to one small miracle of modern living – the hot shower. Nowadays, many of us turn the knob and step into liquid warmth with nary a thought about it. But it still takes a lot of work to make it happen, in the form of millions of megawatt-hours of electricity to operate a vast network of pipelines, pumps, tanks and reservoirs. And in lieu of chopping wood of course, most of us pay for natural gas or additional electricity to heat our water for us.
I like to think of my home shower as a personal waterfall, completely adjustable and available on demand. It offers a sublime experience, made even more so by the simple act of conservation. Through the use of a specific and effective showerhead, I have found that it is possible to take long, satisfying showers using only a fraction of the water and energy.
I first wrote about the Oxygenics BodySpa SkinCare hand-held showerhead shortly after I began using one, but it’s worth mentioning again. This well-designed device has worked flawlessly since installing it over three years ago. It has saved tens of thousands of gallons of water and more than paid for itself through energy savings alone. Who says it costs more to be green?
I like to think of my home shower as a personal waterfall, completely adjustable and available on demand. It offers a sublime experience, made even more so by the simple act of conservation.
The key is using the adjustable ring or “comfort control” on the hand-held showerhead to dial back the flow rate. Even when turned down, the design maintains a comfortable spray using much less water, as little as a half-gallon per minute. A typical low-flow showerhead is fixed at 2.5 gallons per minute, the maximum flow rate for the Oxygenics.
Using the full-flow setting for initial and final rinsing with a lower-flow setting during the longer wash cycle seems to be a winning strategy. My hot water consumption has been slashed. The bottom line is that there are ways to enjoy the benefits of modern technology and comfort while using even less of our precious resources. In a state where water is scarce and energy valuable, what could make more sense?
This device is said to work well even when water pressure is less than ideal. One final benefit is that the manufacturer is based in Nevada so purchasing this product benefits our economy as well.
Learning to live lighter on the planet continues to be an adventure. Not quite the same as living on the side of a volcano, but infinitely more rewarding.