Instructables
Picture of Cozy Low-Energy Shower
Showering is one of the most energy intensive activities in a typical American's day, using energy to heat the water at a rate comparable to driving a mid-size car. Rather than trying to shorten your shower time, or make do with cooler water, you can make your shower more luxurious and make it use less energy.

The main ideas are to make the shower stall fully enclosed, to make it cozy and warm without using as much hot water, and to make it easy to turn the water on and off as needed, with a consistent, comfortable water temperature.

There are actually four specific changes I made in my shower towards this end. For the ultimate shower, I recommend all four, but you can use as many or as few as you want. The total cost is around $100 (depending on many options), but if you want to do it on the cheap, you can also do much of it for under $10.

This project works regardless of whether your goal is to be super-green and have the ultimate low-energy shower (while still being comfortable), or you want to have a super-luxurious shower, while saving a little energy.
 
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Step 1: Four Components

I've changed four things in my shower to make it cozier, and to make it use less energy and water. They can be used alone or in combination--you might start with one or two and start saving right away, and consider doing more later.

The four components are:

A) Enclose the shower stall fully, to keep it cozy and warm inside, even when the water is off. The idea is the same as the Shower Dome, available in New Zealand for about US$300, installed, but costs much less!

B) Pedal-controlled water flow, so it's easy to turn the water on and off, and modulate the flow as needed.

C) With the water fully shut off at the showerhead, either with the pedal control or with a conventional button valve at the showerhead, mismatches in pressure can make the hot water back-feed the cold water or vice-versa. When you turn the water on after it's been off, you get a blast of hot or cold water. If you have this problem, there's a plumbing trick that can solve it.

D) Choose your showerhead carefully. Some low-flow showerheads chill the water by evaporative cooling when they atomize the water into a fine spray. Then you need to use more hot water to stay warm. There are better showerhead choices.
Woodenbikes6 years ago
I finally made my shower booth cover and it works great! I used a piece of heavy duty clear flexible acetate type plastic that I found in a dumpster. (Motto: "The dumpster will provide") I taped it in place by taping it to the tiles and enclosure frame. My wife was skeptical at first but now she is hooked on the low energy, steamy warm comfort. It really does keep the bathroom drier. Water does not condense on the cover and drip like I worried it would. Thanks for the good idea.

Six years later and he shower cover is still working great and providing comfort and keeping warm steamy air where it belongs. It also allows us to save energy and water by making it comfy to turn off the water while soaping up.

ewilhelm made it!9 months ago

I enclosed my shower stall with a piece of acrylic and two quick clamps. Not only is the shower warmer, the rest of the bathroom stays dry during showers.

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tinker2342 years ago
i love the idea of a enclosed shower could you tile it if you want to
acelondon2 years ago
Have you run into any mold issues by enclosing the shower? Or do you just make sure the door is open when you're done? Great 'able, planning to do this in my new house i'm currently buying!
LowEnergy (author)  acelondon2 years ago
I do exactly what you say--I make sure to leave the door open. I think that's key.
lightzok3 years ago
Complete tweaked-out HotShower kit ready for easy installation at www.energev.com
Great Article. I use Low Flow shower heads all through my house. I have a lot of ideas on my site as well. Take a look.

http://www.electricity-saving-ideas.com
DdraigGoch3 years ago
Great idea and handy 'ible. Thank you. I'm hoping to adapt this to my bath.
pmartinez4 years ago
Just what I needed for another project. Got all the steps. Only one thing missing: can you upload the mouse? Great job
lightzok4 years ago
Same great concept: instructions for the installation of the EnergyShower showercocoon at http://www.wikihow.com/Install-an-Energyshower-Shower-Cocoon
Some older houses may make banging sounds when the water is shut off quickly. This can easily happen form a valve like this even in homes with modern plumbing. This banging noise can break pipes and cause leaks in the plumbing in the house. This can be stopped inexpensively by putting in an air chamber before the valve (on the side where the water comes from). The noise is also refereed to as water hammer hammer.
lightzok4 years ago
If you want a finished product that fully encloses the shower, and utilizes the same great concept, you can buy it for $59.95 at www.energyshower.com.  Quick to put up, good looking, and can be installed and removed without damaging the walls.
LowEnergy (author)  lightzok4 years ago
What a great product!!!  I'm so glad to see that!!!  Thanks for pointing it out.
renagy205 years ago
oh my goodness. ive been so embarassed to bring my friends from college to visit my parents house because the bathroom is so moldy from everyone taking steamy hot showers (even with the fan on) We've tried everything to fix the problem and nothing works. Im totally going to install this for fathers day!!!! Thanks for the idea!!!
Bruno M5 years ago
It is not allowed by the water utility company to let hot water flow back in the cold water line; so your problem ( should ) not exist. Most old fashioned showers with 2 separated valves for hot and cold have non return valves build in. But instead of breaking up walls etc, why not install a thermostatic shower valve, that mixes your water to the right temp ( and volume too)? And spills also less water while one waits for the cold water to get up to temp in your old fashioned setup?
LowEnergy (author)  Bruno M5 years ago
In buildings, at least the ones I've worked on, there are lots of things that "should not exist" that do! In my installation, I did not have to break into any walls to install the check (non-return) valve. The pipe was accessible in the basement. However, I would have had to break up the walls to install a thermostatic shower valve. So for me, what I did made sense. In buildings, every installation is different, so it won't be the same for everyone. I don't understand what you say about spilling less water. Don't you need to wait the same amount of time and dump the same water in either case?
phb LowEnergy5 years ago
I think Bruno might be referring to the fact that the thermostatic shower valves actually don't release water to the showerhead itself until it's @ the set temperature. Instead, they feed the hot back to the HWS until it's up to temp. That's my understanding anyway... could well be I'm wrong! ;-)
A fully enclosed shower is such a simple yet brilliant idea! Houses should be built like that. I will probably risk my parents calling me a hippy and go ahead and do this :D
Its not trying to make my shower flow Less its trying to get my shower to flow More, a WHOLE lot more.
eco80085 years ago
another great showerhead is the Aquahelix. It uses about .5 gallons or 2 litres of water with good pressure. I find it cleans fine, although it is actually a little strong. They will take the head back if you don't like it. http://www.aquahelix.net/?gclid=CJPMgIuT25gCFQsMGgod3D0_bQ
My wife and I installed an Oxygenics low flow shower head in our shower. We are pleased with it the hot water lasts longer because we are using less water to take a shower. We got our's here: www.energyefficienttechnologies.net
Thanks for the great ideas. I personally use a normal 2.5 GPM shower head but I installed a ball valve just before the shower head that allows me to turn the flow down to almost 0.9 GPM without any heat loss from dispersion. That way, I have a low flow shower head that doesn't disperse the flow.
JeremyA6 years ago
I am very surprised by your dislike of the standard low flow heads. I have a product I bought at Walmart (I don't normally shop there but it was 1 in the AM when I bought this) called the great head. It is a simple little metal 4 dollar shower head with a shut off valve. I love it. My water heater is about done for and this has helped me conserve enough water that the heat lasts longer. I use it to take Navy style showers. I agree with what you say about it wasting heat through dispersion of water droplets, but im still surprised. I think for the most part many people would still benefit from such an inexpensive and miserly device.
I like it! I've done something like this, but I was in the situation of limited space for a water heater. Just try to use a 2.5 gallon heater and get a 12 minute shower out of it! That'll put you right into the extreme conservation mindset. In my case, I run about 0.7 gallons per minute. If I install a heat-exchanger, maybe I will get another 10 minutes? I had wanted a tankless heater, but those are too expensive and too big. My shower curtain is the kind that hangs on a track from the ceiling, kind've like what a hospital curtain hangs off of. I really want to put a skylight in the stall, with a way to open it after a shower so that natural heat rise will exhaust the warm moist air.
3.14156 years ago
Another $$$ saving idea-check the HI-LO settings on your boiler. In my old house 140-120 degrees Fahrenheit was sufficient; in my current house 160-140 is required.
ifnine6 years ago
how about a voice activated water control.
ecojoe7 years ago
Wow, I might actually try something like this. I'm already doing some stuff to save on water, but this would be good to keep the rest of the bathroom dry and let me shower in luxury.
Austringer7 years ago
Another trick that would go well with this is to run your cold water line coaxially with your drain line so that your waste water preheats your incoming water.
LowEnergy (author)  Austringer7 years ago
Yes--thanks for mentioning that. I'd been meaning to add a note. With the enclosure and the low-aeration showerhead, the drain water temperature is closer to what is coming out of the showerhead. There are commercial drain heat exchangers available at least four places: one, two, three, and four. A few of those may be different distributors of the same thing.

Perhaps we can get to a point where your body heat actually creates a net gain in the tank temperature each time you take a shower!
LowEnergy (author)  LowEnergy7 years ago
One more source: Watercycle.
You could also duct your existing exhaust fan to the top of the enclosure, and then turn it on when you get out leaving the shower slightly cracked to pull the majority of the moist air from the stall. This would help prevent raising the humidity and causing the A/C to work harder.
LowEnergy (author)  spyderman54137 years ago
Ducting the exhaust to the top is a good idea. A lower-tech approach that I use sometimes is to run the cold water for 30 seconds or so before I open the door, to chill the air and condense a bunch of the moisture out. When I have time and am concerned about humidity (I don't have A/C), I sometimes also squeegee the walls so that water on them goes down the drain instead of evaporating into my house. But that's not really necessary--the shower dries quickly anyway, without a noticeable effect on the overall house humidity.
MrTrick7 years ago
Really great idea about enclosing the shower! When I was young my parents had an almost-completely-enclosed shower, that was great for keeping the warmth in. My current apartment has one of those combination bath-showers, which has a HUGE frontal area for cold air to get in. I think I'll do this.
Woodenbikes7 years ago
Great Instructable! Now I'm motivated to enclose my shower and enjoy the steamy comfort while keeping the bathroom dry. Done along with the other instructables about a little solar water preheat, turning the water heater down to "pilot" and insulating it, I'd be showering at half the gas use or less. Sometimes the combination of solutions is even more workable together than each is separately.