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

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 by switching to using a shower? 

High energy prices are increasing pressures to cut energy costs around the house and it’s got us thinking about the best time to put the heating on, whether oil or fan heaters are cheaper and if putting cling film on windows really keeps the heat inside. 

Stephanie Hurry, Head of Water Efficiency Engagement at Waterwise (opens in new tab) 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 – a shower or a bath?

Shower vs bath: we look at the facts

How much does it cost to shower?

Man washing his hair in the shower

(Image credit: Getty images)

If you use a 7.5kW electric shower for 10 minutes, it costs around 43p to use, Uswitch (opens in new tab) 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.

It isn’t as straightforward to say everyone's shower cost is the same, as other factors come into play like how long you shower for and the type of shower head you have. 

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 (opens in new tab), 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. 

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 (opens in new tab) says by cutting down your shower time by one minute every day 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. 

Stephanie from Waterwise (opens in new tab) recommends “trying to stick to 4 minutes and using a song from our Waterwise Spotify Playlist (opens in new tab) to help you shower before the end of the song finishes.”

Challenge yourself to a "navy shower". Navy showers last a quick 3 minutes –switch the shower off when you're 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 (opens in new tab), which claims to save 50% of water compared to a normal shower head. Energy Saving Trust (opens in new tab) 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 10 pm and 8 am could cost you less. Find out more about how economy 7 works.

How much does it cost to use a bath?

Woman perched on the side of a bath tub running the bath

(Image credit: Getty images)

A 150L filled bath, costs around 30p to 90p to run, according to Money Stepper (opens in new tab). If you take two baths a day you'll use an average of 300L of water per day, costing you a daily £1.20 and £438 per year. 

But this depends on a few things: how much you fill your bathtub, how hot the water is, how efficient your boiler is and your water and sewerage supplier.

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.

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

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

Finding a cheaper energy tariff can also cut costs as Money Stepper (opens in new tab) 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. 

First, it’s important to know if you pay your water bill based on a fixed rate or on the actual amount of water you use, measured with a water meter. If you do have a water meter, opting for a shorter shower which uses less water will probably be cheaper. 

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 a gas boiler heating up your water. 

With both options, you can try to cut down on 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.