How Much Water Do You Use In A Shower? [RV Shower Cost]

How Much Water Do You Use in A Shower

When you’re taking a shower and have tiny streams of water coming down on you, it’s hard to imagine how much water you’re using, especially when thinking about it in terms of gallons.

And, if you’re showering in a large RV or camper, it’s easy to assume that you automatically save water when compared to a shower in a traditional home. But is that really the case?

How much water do you use in a shower? The average person uses between 15 to 17 gallons of water per day in the shower. Most Americans use just under 16 gallons of water during their showers with that shower lasting between eight to ten minutes (shower length), once a day.

There are a variety of factors that determine how much water you use in the shower, with some less obvious than others.

How Much Water Does the Average Household Use?

The average American uses between 15 to 17 gallons of water for the average eight-minute shower.

Assuming you only shower once a day, that ends up being over five thousand gallons of water per year, per person.

Multiply this number by the number of people in your household—assuming they all fall into the same conditions—and you can see how quickly your water usage adds up.

For example, for a family of four, water usage can sit at 21.216 gallons.

average water consumption
Average Water Consumption

How Much Water Does an RV/Camper Use?

How much water an RV or camper uses in the shower will first depend on the size of the vehicle’s water tank:

RV ClassWater Tank Size
RV class A75-100 Gallons
RV class C35-60 Gallons
RV class B20-40 Gallons

(Source: Camper Report)

The larger the tank size, the more water is available, and therefore the more showers may be available during a single trip.

Related reading: Truck Stop Showers: The Ultimate Guide for Non-Truckers [Updated]

However, the flow rate—or how many gallons/liters of water are dispensed per minute—for RVs and campers also affect how much water is ultimately used during a typical shower.

Average Traditional Shower Flow RateThe flow rate of a typical household shower is about 2.1 gallons per minute.
Average RV/Camper Flow RateThe flow rate of a typical RV/Camper shower is about 1.5 gallons per minute.

The higher the flow rate, the more water that is being used; therefore, the higher the cost if all other variables remain the same.

As you can see, the showers in RVs and campers usually have much lower flow-rates than traditional showers; this means that the number of gallons of water used for a shower will also be lower.

Using the example in the previous section, for an eight-minute shower (shower length), an individual can use up about 12 gallons of water, versus the 15-17 gallons used in a traditional shower.

So, why the big difference? Well, most—if not all—RVs and campers use low-flow showerheads to conserve water.

However, while this is a practical solution to the ever-present water conservation issue, you do sacrifice the experience you would have in a traditional shower by reducing the water pressure.

Using truck stop showers whenever you can is the number one (in our humble opinion) way to maintain your hygiene and keep you comfy.

Check out this article about truck stop showers

What About Hot Water?

The amount of hot water used for any shower depends on the tank size of your water heater.

RVs come with their own water heaters, allowing you to take a warm to hot shower like you usually would at home.

However, these water heaters are substantially smaller than their home counterparts. In fact, “the average RV water tank is six to ten gallons.

Compare that with a minimum of 40-50 gallons in a small home tank” (Source: RVShare).

Typical Water Heater Sizes for Traditional ShowersLarge Water Heater sizes for Traditional ShowersTypical Water Heater Sizes for RVsLarge Water Heater Sizes for RVs
40 gallons80 gallons6 gallons10 gallons
Size of Water Tanks 40 Gallons80 Gallons 6 Gallons10 Gallons
Length of Time Hot Water is Available19 minutes38 minutes2 minutes   *4 minutes for an RV5 minutes   *7 minutes for an RV

*The RV or camper showering experience is privy to all the above information, but the necessity for water usage and consumption is heightened.

The average shower time within an RV may be the same (ideally shorter for conservation reasons and the smaller water heater).

Still, a lower flow rate showerhead may be essential if you’re trying to maximize your water usage.

How Much Does Taking a Shower in an RV Cost?

Water itself really isn’t expensive. In fact, the average cost of water in a traditional home is $1.50 for every 1000 gallons of water, or less than $.01 a gallon.

The main cost of the shower actually comes from your water heater.

With RVs and campers, you’ll likely fill up your freshwater tank at home before your journey, which means you will inherit this same cost for water use.

However, if you’re on the road and need to fill up your water tank, most dump stations offer free water, while others may charge a small fee, so costs may vary.

However, if you take steps to conserve your water use, you can make the water in your tank last for longer, making it less necessary to fill your tank at dump stations.

You can also use techniques to make your shower feel warmer for longer, so no water in your water heater goes to waste.

How to Conserve Water in an RV/Camper

One way to save on the cost associated with water usage is to take shorter showers.

In fact, the length of the shower or shower length is directly related to the amount of water you need to shower and also dramatically influence the cost.

Not only will this save you money on the water itself, but it will also cut down the secondary cost of your water heater as you’re using less water and therefore less energy.

You can also take what’s known as a combat/military shower. This technique involves turning off the water while you lather on your soap and shampoo.

Using showerheads with the WaterSense Label could go a long way to not only save water for your overall RV but could give you that extra pressure you might typically be missing in a regular RV showerhead.

Although some of these showerheads can be on the high-end in terms of price, they will always have a lower flow rate, which can save you more money in water and energy costs in the long run.

The WaterSense Label

The WaterSense Label is placed on water-efficient products, such as showerheads, that have been approved by the EPA. The goal of these products is to provide the same—if not better—experience while also conserving water.

Approved showerheads do this by increasing the efficiency of the head itself while simultaneously lowering the flow rate.

How Often Should We Shower in an RV?

If your goal is to reduce water use and be more energy-efficient, then you may also want to reconsider how frequently you shower in your RV or camper.

Like our everyday showering experience, how often you should shower in an RV will depend on your personal hygiene needs.

Just make sure to consider all the following when showering in your RV:

  • Have I been more active than yesterday?
  • When was the last time I showered?
  • Do I have enough water left in my tank to shower?
  • Am I comfortable without a shower?
  • Will I be more comfortable after a shower?

The answers to the above questions will vary by personal circumstance, but so, too, do our average run of the mill showers. 

4 Shower Water Saving Tips You Need To Know

Many people want to know how they can conserve water in the shower. Here are 4 tips to help you do just that.

1). While it sounds super-obvious, simply by taking shorter showers you can save gallons of water a day.

If you are the type who takes 10-minute showers, try cutting that in half by setting up a timer in your shower room to go off 5 minutes after you start the water.

2). While waiting for the water to heat up, try to fill up a bucket with the initial cold water that comes from the shower head.

You can utilize this water for other means such as watering the plants out in the garden or maybe boil the water to make pasta or a nice soup.

The possibilities are endless, and you can enjoy the riches of whatever you put that water to use for knowing that was water well-saved.

3). Install a low-flow shower head if you don’t have one already. While normal showerheads on average use up to about 5 gallons of water a minute, low-flow showerheads use about half of that.

Related: This Is Why You Need A Water Pressure Regulator For Your RV

4). Turn off the water while you apply your cleaning products, such as soap, shampoo, body wash, moisturizer, conditioner, etc.

While this may sound a bit inconvenient, you will be surprised by how much water you can save with this method.

What Uses More Water – Bath or Shower?

What uses more water – bath vs shower? In general showers use quite less water than baths. The average bathtub can use about 70 gallons of water. Meanwhile, a normal showerhead that uses about 4.5-5 gallons of water per minute will only use about 20-25 gallons for a 5-minute shower.

If you utilize a low-flow showerhead, that becomes about half the water usage for the same time frame.

However, the answer to this question has the potential to vary depending on the size of your bathtub and how long you take showers.

While you can potentially use much more water for your shower, it’s important to try to be conscientious of how long you are in the shower for.

Additionally, you can try saving water while bathing by only filling the tub about half-way. Moreover, you can put the plug on the drain before running your bath, the hot water will mix in with the cold water before the tub fills up.

You can further save water by only taking baths every now and then – even though the temptation to take a luxurious bath might creep up once a day, think about the water.

Does a Bigger Showerhead Use More Water?

Does a bigger showerhead use more water? Yes, theoretically, a large showerhead that has high water pressure could use much more water than an average showerhead. It all depends on the number of holes and water pressure.

While a bigger showerhead has the potential to utilize more water, it could also use the same amount of water as a regular showerhead, or even less water.

It depends on how many holes are in the head and how high the water pressure is.

If it is a large shower head but has low water pressure you are going to get the same amount of water as an ordinary shower, but it will feel like it’s using less water because of how much more gentle the water will feel when it hits your skin.

Which Shower Head uses Less Water? Top 3 Products

When picking out a showerhead to conserve water, try to look for low-flow WaterSense showerheads.

The following 3 are our top picks:

1). High Sierra’s All Metal 1.5 GPM High Efficiency Low Flow Showerhead

  • WaterSense Certified
  • Affordable
  • Delivers strong spray with large water drops
  • Aesthetic chrome finish
  • Made of strong solid metal

2). High Sierra Solid Metal Handheld Shower Kit

  • Convenient handheld showerhead to ensure you can spray every inch of your skin
  • Durable
  • Low-pressure shower head
  • 1.5 Gallons of water per minute for maximum water-saving efficiency
  • WaterSense Certified

3). WaterPik PowerPulse

  • A detachable showerhead
  • WaterSense Certified
  • Has 7 pressure settings to adjust as you please
  • Easy to install
  • Affordable

Final Thoughts

RVs and campers are already set up for success when it comes to overall water usage when compared to traditional household showers.

They typically come with low-flow showerheads that will save you water.

Their water heaters are drastically smaller, and thus the appeal of a long hot shower isn’t on the table, which (while not intentionally) probably saves water in that regard too.

So, while comfortable showers may not be in the endless supply category during your trips, with proper planning, techniques, and add-ons, RVs and campers knock the socks off household showers in terms of sheer water efficiency and energy consumption. 

Recommended Reading

For more helpful articles about Water in RV please check out our articles below:

Is Your RV Water Foamy? This Might Be Why.

5 Practical Ways To Unfreeze Water Lines In RVs (That Actually Work)

Why Does My RV Water Smell Like Sulfur? – 4 Ways to Fix It

Is Charmin Toilet Paper safe for RV? – What You Need To Know

Can You Flush Tampons Down an RV Toilet? Facts You Should Know

This Is Why Your RV Toilet Foot Pedal is Leaking – [How to Repair]

Jessica Gilmour

Jessica is co-founder of RV and Playa and loves sharing her enthusiasm for the Beach- and RVing lifestyle. As a full-time RVer since December 2017, Jessica playful writing style helps make learning about RV a bit more interesting. Nothing is as freeing as being on the beach (Playa), lacing your feet with the sand, having the water lap your legs and becoming one with nature.

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