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Everyone loves a hot shower to feel clean and refreshed. But if you're living on a tight budget, too many of those hot showers might put a dent in your bank account. The water and the utilities to heat it aren't free. How much does it cost to take a shower? We've researched this topic and have come up with the answer for an average person.
If you have an electric water heater, each shower costs somewhere from $0.20 to $0.40 depending on the shower's length, the cost of water, and the cost to heat that water. A natural gas water heater will be slightly cheaper for each shower.
Showering is necessary, but that doesn't mean you want to spend all of your money on it! We'll help you understand the costs associated with taking a shower and how to decrease those costs. Plus, we'll discuss a bunch of other hot water topics. Let's get going!
How much does a shower cost?
The cost of a shower fluctuates depending on several factors. To find an approximate price, we can use the national average for each factor. Keep in mind that your totals might be different based on your location and personal preferences.
First of all, the average shower length for a person in the United States is 7.8-8.2 minutes. The average cost of water in the United States is $1.50 for 1,000 gallons. To heat that water with an electric water heater -- the most popular type of water heater -- it costs an average of 13.6 cents (rounded up to $0.14) per kilowatt-hour (click here to see the rate of electricity in your state). A natural gas water heater costs about two-thirds of the cost of an electric water heater to run, so we'll say it costs $0.10 per hour to heat the water.
The remaining factors are the flow rate and amount of water used. The average American shower has a flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute. When we multiply that by the average length of a shower, a typical shower uses between sixteen and seventeen gallons.
By plugging these numbers into a shower cost calculator, we see an average shower costs about $0.28 with an electric heater and $0.21 with a natural gas water heater. This does not consider any water that runs while the water heats up or the amount of heated water but is not used.
While the cost for each shower might not seem like much, it can add up quickly. One person taking an average shower once a day costs approximately $102 per year. But if you take multiple showers each day, have more than one person in your home, or take longer showers, this amount grows.
How to save money on showers
Looking for a way to spend less on showers? Here are a couple of ideas to consider.
Use less water
This one seems like a no-brainer, right? If you use less water, you spend less money. If you're willing to sacrifice your long showers, you'll save in the long run. Using the same calculations above but changing the length of the shower to six minutes, the annual cost of your daily shower shrinks to about $78.
Another way to use less water is to turn it off while you soap or shampoo up. Keep the door closed in your bathroom so that the steam keeps you warm while the water is off. If you can stand the discomfort, you'll save money.
Low flow showerhead
The amount of water your showerhead expells directly correlates to the cost of each shower. The flow rate of 2.1 can be decreased with a new showerhead. Older showerheads might have a higher flow rate of up to five gallons per minute, which means a lot of water is used for each shower.
This showerhead has a flow rate of one gallon per minute. Making that one adjustment can decrease your annual shower cost to about $50!
Insulate your water heater
You can protect your water heater and make it easier for it to keep the water warm. Do this by insulating the tank itself and the pipes that come out of it. This insulation material fits on a variety of water heater sizes and makes its job easier.
Most water heaters also have an adjustable temperature setting. If you can stand slightly cooler water, turning it down by five to ten degrees can save you three to five percent each year. Turning it down to 120 degrees should still be warm enough to be comfortable.
Do you own your home? Then you might be wondering about homeowner's insurance. Check out this article for all the info you'll need: Can You Go Without Homeowners Insurance?
Tankless water heaters
Tankless water heaters are exactly what their name suggests: water heaters that don't store the hot water in a tank. Instead, these devices quickly heat the water that runs through. Depending on the home's size, this heater could be placed at the primary water source for the home. But often, tankless heaters are placed at multiple points of usage, like in a laundry room or bathroom.
Since a standard water heater warms the water up periodically and stores it, sometimes the hot water runs out. This isn't a problem with tankless heaters because they offer a continuous flow of hot water. They are often used in large homes or multi-family buildings, where many people use the hot water.
Is a tankless water heater more expensive?
The cost to install a tankless water heater upfront is greater than a typical water heater. They cost anywhere from $500 to $700 for an electric unit and $1,000 to $2,000 for a gas unit. They must be retrofitted to work with your current water heater set up, so installation costs from $1,000 to $2,000. In comparison, a typical water heater can cost between $750 and $2,000 for the appliance and installation.
However, it doesn't take very long for a tankless heater to pay for itself in utility savings. They are more efficient than standard water heaters, saving the average family around $100 a year. They also last twenty years instead of ten like a tank water heater. The efficiency and longevity mean you break even after a decade or so.
Besides the convenience of having unlimited hot water, this financial benefit makes a tankless water heater an attractive option. Plus, a tankless water heater can increase the value of your home. Looking for other ways to increase your home's value? Read this article: What is The Average Annual Return on Residential Real Estate?
How big of a tankless water heater do I need for a shower?
To figure out how big your tankless water heater should be, you need to determine the faucets' total flow rate that will use it. Add the flow rate of all the fixtures together. For instance, if two showers will be using the heater, add the shower heads' flow rates together.
You'll also need to know how much temperature rise you'll need. This is how hard the heater will have to work to get the water up to your desired temperature. Determine the groundwater temperature in your location by using this map. Subtract that number from your desired water temperature. Most people prefer shower water somewhere between 110 and 120 degrees.
Use these two numbers -- the total flow rate and temperature rise -- to figure out what size of water heater you require.
Water heater FAQs
Here are answers to a few other questions that people ask when figuring out how much showers cost.
Can I save money by turning off my electric hot water heater?
No matter how well-insulated your water heater is, up to ten percent of the heat is escaping at any given time. Thus, if you turn it off, you're saving that ten percent, plus however much it costs to heat the water in the tank. If you opt to shut your heater down between uses, turn it on about thirty minutes before you want to use it. Then, turn it off right before you use the hot water.
Seem like a lot of work? Purchase a water heater timer and set it to correspond to when you need it. The timer will heat the water for an hour or two and then hold it for several hours. Here's a high-quality option that works on almost all water heaters.
How much oil does it take to heat a hot water heater?
It takes a little less than a gallon of oil to heat a tank of water in the summer. The typical water heater takes up about 25 gallons of oil a month. Since a tank of hot water lasts the average home an entire day, you can assume that you're using a little less than a gallon a day.
During the winter, your furnace will use the same oil as your water heater. This means that if you're running your home's furnace, it's warming up the water heater, too. Thus, you might be using more oil during the winter to warm your home, but you won't be using any to heat your water.
How long will water stay hot in heater without electric? Without gas?
As long as your water heater has quality insulation, the water will stay hot all day after heating up. It doesn't matter whether the heater is gas or electric. This is how water heaters are designed to work: they heat the water and keep it warm until used. Nowadays, most locations have regulations that say that water heaters should have some amount of insulation.
Water heaters are typically made out of copper or steel. If you feel like your water isn't staying warm or if your heater takes too long to warm up, it might be time to replace it. Check the date on the appliance: most water heaters last for about ten years.
The typical United States citizen can expect to spend somewhere between twenty and forty cents per shower, depending on the length of the shower and the utility costs in your location. You can decrease this cost by taking shorter showers, installing better showerheads, protecting your water heater, and using your water heater correctly.