Shower vs bath – what's the cheaper way to wash?

Households are trying to cut energy costs, even in the bathroom. When it comes down to the shower vs bath battle - which one is cheaper?

a picture of a shower and a bath tap
(Image credit: Getty Images / Future pLC)

Many of us love a luxurious soak in the bath without giving the cost much thought. But with rising energy prices can you make a saving switching to a shower?

Households are trying to cut energy costs by looking at how much it costs to run the central heating and how to save money on their heating, but you should also keep track of the water you use. 

And according to Yorkshire Water, the cost of running a hot bath is set to double to £1,023. 

Stephanie Hurry, Head of Water Efficiency Engagement at Waterwise said: “When you use your hot water, you are not only incurring costs from your water - if you are on a water meter - but also on your energy bill from the energy required to heat the water.”

Here we found out which is cheaper- shower or bath?

Shower vs bath: we look at the facts

How much does it cost to shower?

A man puts his arm under the shower water

(Image credit: Getty images)

If you use a 7.5kW electric shower for 10 minutes, it costs around 43p to use, Uswitch has confirmed. So if you run two showers per day in your household each consisting of 10 minutes, it would cost £6.02 a week.

But don’t forget to factor in your shower time and the type of shower head you have, as this can affect running costs. 

Those who have an electric shower head compared to those who rely on gas boilers are going to see a difference in running costs, as electricity costs 0.34p per kWh, whereas it costs 0.10p per kWh of gas under the current Energy Price Guarantee

According to Premier Care in Bathing, our body temperature is around 37 degrees so you should be bathing between 40 to 45 degrees. 

Depending on your household and who you live with will also affect shower costs, because babies and elderly people should be showering closer to body temperature and the higher the temperature you want to reach, the more energy it will use.

How to save water when showering

If you own a shower and are trying to use less energy, you can make small changes to your shower routine to keep costs low. 

Have quicker showers. As nice as it is to stand under the hot water for longer than you should be, if you want to cut costs then it means cutting your shower time. Energy Saving Trust say by cutting down your shower time by one minute everyday can save you up to £8 a year, per person on your energy bills. 

Time yourself in the shower. If you don’t know how long you're spending in the shower, then it’s time to get creative. You can get shower timers, or you can actually use your shower playlist to time yourself. After two to three songs and Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body stops playing, that’s your sign to stop the shower. 

Yorkshire Water says halving your shower time to four minutes can save you around £700 a year on your water bill. Stephanie from Waterwise recommends “trying to stick to 4 minutes and using a song from our Waterwise Spotify Playlist to help you shower before the end of the song finishes.”

Take a shower instead of a bath. Yorkshire Water says switching three baths to five showers a week can save you hundreds of pounds on your water bill. 

Challenge yourself to a navy shower. Navy showers are known to last a quick 3 minutes by switching the shower off when scrubbing your hair and body with soap. It does seem doable if you wash it off quickly.

Change your shower head. You can get energy-efficient shower heads like this one from Amazon, which claims to save 50% of water compared to a normal shower head. Energy Saving Trust says a water-efficient shower head could save a family of four up to £38 a year on gas and water when heating water. And if you’re on a water meter, you could save an additional £53, taking it to a yearly saving of about £91. 

Shower at off-peak times. If you’re on economy 7 or 10, then showering off-peak between 10pm and 8am could cost you less. Find out more about how economy 7 works

How much does it cost to use a bath?

Woman relaxing at home reading a book in the bath

(Image credit: Getty images)

According to Yorkshire Water, the cost of taking hot baths is predicted to rise to £1,023 this year, that’s a 90% increase. 

What’s more, running a bath is the most expensive domestic use of water, as research from Yorkshire after found water cost £542.88 in 2022, a 79% rise since 2021 (£303.70).

For a 150L filled bath, it costs around 30p to 90p to run, according to Money Stepper. Two baths a day uses an average 300L of water per day, costing you a daily £1.20 and £438 per year. 

Again, don’t forget to factor in other things that affect the running cost of having a bath:

  • The volume of water in the bathtub
  • How hot the water is
  • How efficient your boiler is
  • Your water and sewerage supply

For example a nice bubble bath to wind down uses a set amount of water and near enough a fixed cost, but if you have a bath with a running tap, you will be using a lot more water and costs will vary.

How to save water when having a bath

You can cut costs of having a bath, but you are limited compared to cutting the costs of showering. 

Emily Brady, of Yorkshire Water, said: “Managing water use in the home is a great way to keep bills down. The environmental benefits to saving water are well known, but there are also great cost savings to reducing your usage – especially when it comes to heating water.”

If you’re on an economy 7 tariff, then using water off peak again could prove to be cheaper between 10pm to 8am. 

Finding a cheaper energy tariff can also cut costs as Money Stepper says this change coils save you up to £370 on your annual energy bill. But as it stands energy prices are fixed under the government's price guarantee until April 2023. So, it’s not worth it now, but it might be an option from April. 

Other small adjustments you could make are lowering the temperature of your baths and taking shallow baths.

The verdict

Overall, taking a shower is generally cheaper than having a bath - but it can vary. 

Check how you pay your water bill- is it based on a fixed rate or is it based on how much water is used measured with a water meter? 

In the case that you have a water meter, if you take shorter showers or use less water, this will help save on your energy bill. 

On average, people spend on average eight minutes in the shower using  50 litres of water - according to Anglian Water. But if you are spending longer than that in the shower the cost can creep up quite quickly to the cost of having a bath - particularly if you have an electric rather than on a gas boiler heating up your water. 

But, if water bills are set to double due to pressure from the cost of gas and electricity rising, it’s worth considering cutting down your shower time to four minutes. 

With both options you can try to cut down how much water you use and you can get creative with a music playlist to time yourself.

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Vaishali Varu
Staff Writer

Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University. She has gained experience writing local stories around Leeds and Leicester, which includes writing for a university publication and Leicester Mercury. 

She has also done some marketing and copywriting for businesses.

When she is not writing about personal finance, Vaishali likes to travel and she's a foodie.