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ENVIRONMENT & TRAVEL December 2006
 
Mind the tap!
by Sandra DECKMYN

Singing and day-dreaming in the shower could soon be a thing of the past in Australia, following a study showing that Australians’ bad habits cause massive waste in energy.

On 22 October 2006 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation released a study on energy consumption carried out by Energy Australia - one of the country's largest power suppliers.
The study focused on people's water consumption when in the shower. The habits of 402 people were scrutinised over five days. The results showed that Australians could dramatically reduce their electric and water consumption if they drastically reduced their activities in the shower.

Few people actually have a shower merely to get clean. The study found out that for adults the most popular activities in the shower were shaving, exfoliating, singing, listening to music, day-dreaming, relaxing, and... thinking. As for children, they brush their teeth, and play with toys. Energy Australia spokesman, Anthony O'Brien, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that "perhaps people can look at whether they need to do that in the shower or whether they can just do it over the sink".*

The study also revealed that women spend more time in the shower than men, and that both spend more time showering during the week-end. Teenagers spend the longest in the shower whereas people aged 40 or more spend less time. Besides, 9% of the people surveyed had three showers a day for pleasure only (29% twice a day, and 62% once a day).

These habits lead to significant waste in water, electricity and money. Energy Australia energy efficiency expert Paul Myors points out that families are not aware of their wasteful habits: "You use enough electricity during one minute of showering to run your television for 4 hours, but many families wouldn't be aware of the cost [...] If an average family cut their showers by just two minutes, they would save just over $100 a year in electricity costs". He added that "electric hot water systems are among the most costly and greenhouse intensive ways to heat water,"** representing about 40% of electricity use in the home.

Energy Australia hopes to encourage more people to become energy efficient. A AU$400 rebate will be given to all those who change their electric hot water system for a gas, solar, or heat-pump system. In the meantime, 500,000 shower timers will be sent to households throughout New South Wales.


Sources:
* "Get out of the shower, Australians told," The National Post 23 October 2006.
** "Revealing look at shower habits," The Sunday Telegraph 22 October 2006.
"Australians urged to save energy with shorter showers," The Guardian 23 October 2006.
"Stop singing in the shower, Australians told," Yahoo News 28 October 2006.


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