Making Ends Meet: Save money, your skin & the planet in the shower

We’re all trying to make every paycheck go further these days, and if you want to reduce the cost of your water bill, the first place you can start is your shower. And bonus! The experts at Consumer Reports say not only can you save money, but you can also save your skin and the planet too.

Let’s begin by talking about all the water we use for a shower. The average family uses up to nearly 40 gallons of water a day while showering -- accounting for nearly 17% of residential indoor water use.

“You can save a lot of water and energy just by limiting your shower time to about five minutes,” said Consumer Reports Home Editor Paul Hope.

CONSUMER REPORTS | You could be showering too long

If you’re up for an easy DIY project, install a water-saving showerhead. You should look for one with the EPA’s WaterSense label, which limits a shower’s output to no more than two gallons a minute.

It can help save 2,700 gallons of water per year and reduces the demand on your water heater -- which also saves energy. If you have an electric water heater, that can add up to enough savings to power your house for 11 days.

And if you’re concerned the water-saving flow won’t get the job done, Hope says there’s no need to worry.

“In many cases, you really may not be able to tell the difference. To qualify for the WaterSense label, a showerhead has to have certain spray patterns and feel and meet criteria that is at least as good if not better than other showerheads in the market,” he explained.

Hot showers might be good for your mind, but warm water is better for dry skin, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. And after your shower, don’t forget to apply a cream moisturizer.

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Another cost and water-saving trick: Instead of just idly sitting there and waiting as the water warms up in the shower, use it to wash your face or brush your teeth.

Consumer Reports has more easy water-saving advice to cover everywhere -- from the kitchen to the laundry room to the backyard. Find out how to cut your water use in half here.