Saving Water (and Your Sanity) with a Shower Monitor for Your Kids

Saving Water (and Your Sanity) with a Shower Monitor for Your Kids

Have you heard about Cape Town’s imminent water shortage? The popular vacation destination in South Africa is expected to run out of water in the next few months. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of, especially for those of us that live in the desert. Though Tucson isn’t expected to run out of water anytime soon, it’s certainly a possibility in the future, and we need to start addressing it now so that we don’t find ourselves being limited to two minute showers, unable to refill our pools or wash our cars, and having to reuse water throughout the day, as is now mandated in Cape Town, all while waiting for the tap to be cut off in April. It’s tragic. They will be the first major city in the world to run out of water, but I doubt they will be the last.

After toilets and clothes washers (more on those in a later post), showers typically are the third most water hungry area of a household. Obviously the longer the shower, the more water is used. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 federally mandated a maximum flow rate for shower heads of 2.5 gallons per minute while the average flow rate is 2.1 GPM due to low flow shower heads, so a 15 minute shower could use up to 37.5 gallons of water. Even if you have a really old shower head, it’s still probably better than filling the bathtub which typically holds 80-110 gallons of water. Young kids typically take baths, but moving them over to showers as soon as possible has a huge water savings benefit if they can learn to take short showers. Plus there’s this…

Saving Water (and Your Sanity) with a Shower Monitor for Your Kids

I know what you’re thinking: “I tried letting my child take a shower, and they spent FOREVER in there, barely doing anything.” That’s been my experience at least, and I suspect it’s fairly common given that kids tend to spend long periods of time in the bathtub…barely doing anything other than playing around unless directly supervised. Training them to take quick showers is a monumental challenge, and it involves a lot of reminders (nagging), instruction (orders), and limits (threats), depending on the night or your perspective. Shower time can become a trying time for both parent and child. 

I’m a big proponent of letting technology be the reminder and the bad guy as often as possible, such as putting an alarm clock with an obnoxious sound across the room rather than checking and prodding your child every 5 minutes to see if they’ve gotten out of bed yet and are getting ready for school. I searched high and low for a device that would turn the shower off (or the hot water off) after a particular amount of time, and I found a device that has been extremely helpful.

Saving Water (and Your Sanity) with a Shower Monitor for Your Kids

The Shower Manager can be set to allow 5, 8, or 11 minute showers by using a magnet to flip an internal switch. Hold onto the magnet (and don’t explain how it works), and your child won’t be able to switch it to 11 minutes. It connects to your existing shower head, and at T-minus 1 minute, it gives a warning beep before cutting the water pressure by two thirds when the time runs out. If they shut the shower off, full pressure will not return until after a 5 minute refresh period.

Our kids have responded extremely well to the Shower Manager. We teach them about the importance of water conservation so they understand the need. They have never complained that the managed showers are too short, but boy did they used to complain when WE would tell them to get out (“but it’s so waaarm!”). We still have to check occasionally to make sure they’re actually washing and not just standing under the warm water for 5 minutes, but that comes with the territory of being a parent. Shower time is no longer a battle, and we’re creating good habits and saving water for the future.

Angela Greynolds, M.Ed.
REALTOR, GRI, GREEN @ Long Realty Company
Angela is a native Tucsonan and has lived, worked, and played in Tanque Verde, central Tucson, the University of Arizona area, Catalina Foothills, the East side, and currently Oro Valley. She is the former Technology Director at St. Michael's School, a runner, musician, teacher, outdoor enthusiast, vegetarian foodie, Spanish-speaker, world traveler, and lover of all things Tucson.

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