Sunday, February 24, 2008

What I Gave Up to Save the World, Part One

Last week, if you recall, I decided to give up my steamy showers for a life of dampness and shivering. Okay, it hasn't been that dramatic, but it sure felt this way on a very cold Sunday morning last week.

We keep our house very chilly in the winter because I feel a sweater is just as effective and much cheaper than even our eco-friendly geothermal heat. If people needed to live in a rainforest every winter, we would never have ventured out of the tropics. And the same people who need a 75 degree home in the winter seem to need a 68 degree one once warm weather kicks in. Hmmm.

So anyway, I decided to take what I call a Santa Cruz shower. That means getting wet, turning off the water while I lather and shampoo, rinsing, turning off the water while I condition and shave, and then rinsing again. Altogether, this takes about 4 minutes, with hot water running about half of that time. Considering that I used to take 10-15 minute showers, this means that I save 8-13 minutes worth of hot water, plus I add 6-11 minutes to my morning. With hot water taking up the majority of most electric bills, this one change in habit could make a huge difference in my electric bill, especially if I enlisted other family members to join my effort. I love that I am saving time, too. Every minute counts when you need to get four children off to co-op or karate lessons.

Is it worth it? Like so many changes in habit, one has to view this through the lens of values. Which do I value more: a lower electric bill, conserving water and fuel to heat it, and a little more time every day, or a hot, relaxing shower. When put that way, it isn't difficult to decide whether I will continue giving up long showers to save the world.

If you are still relaxing under an endless flow of hot water, try this for just one week. I think you'll find it isn't as spartan as it sounds.