Hard-core showering in the extreme. Though (having learnt from my showering in space blog) I would like at this point to add the rider that – “No Mu, I haven’t been showering with real polar bears, so rest assured your eldest daughter will still be around for some time writing random ramblings on all things showery.” Though if someone did offer me a shower above the Arctic Circle I certainly wouldn’t refuse…

But whilst not showering with real polar bears we have been joined for the last couple of weeks by amphiro’s (http://amphiro.com/) rather cute digital one. Mind you, she might look cute but this particular polar bear has a certain menace about her. If she can get Lydz (same as Lyds just spelt badly in an American kind of way) out of that shower after just 23 litres of water she must be really fierce!

Wow 23 litres! How did that happen?
It’s quite simple. A polar bear stands on her ice floe, which starts to melt as the energy used for the shower increases.  At the same time the number of litres you are using clocks up rapidly in real time and the temperature of the water that you are using is also displayed. Once the shower is over the amphiro displays both the amount of litres of water used and, crucially, the amount of energy the shower has needed to heat it the water meaning that a 20 litre shower at 42 degrees C is not the same as a 20 litres shower at a lower temperature. With relation to the polar bear of course that’s the relevant part. As it is the hot water content of a shower that adds to climate change it makes perfect sense that this is how showers should be rated especially in countries like the UK where there is not a big issue with a lack of available water.

The original video animation showed the polar bear sitting in front of an igloo, with its ice floe melting depending on the amount of minutes you were in the shower, eventually needing a rubber ring and finally eventually being an ex-polar bear. I guess that didn’t get past the focus groups as the device on the market has a far more realistic (if somewhat more prosaic) polar bear scenario.

You are then awarded an energy efficiency rating for your shower as shown in the table below.

Energy Rating Energy consumption kWh


0.000 – 0.700


0.701 – 1.225


1.226 – 1.750


1.751 – 2.275


2.276 – 2.800


2.801 – 3.325


More than 3.325 kWh


It’s really hard to get an A+ rating. I did it with my first one which came in at 10.6 litres. (Suhith had already been in there so no waiting for the shower to run hot) long and 320 Wh. But if I am in the shower first then A- is the best I can get. My worst performance so far has been 15 litres and 800 Wh. I have always felt rather smug about my showers, given the fact I spend such a short amount of time under them. But I’m not so smug now. Because almost 1kWh for a shower is far more than I would ever have thought. The reason? Well it’s the temperature of my showers. The example on amphiro’s web site shows a shower of 23.8 litres and a temperature of 28 degrees C. I assume that they have used that figure because there are punters out there for whom that is normal, but I have mine at 42 degrees C, a massive difference.


So how do I love it? Let me count the ways…

  • It requires no batteries. How cool is that? The effect of the water running though the amphiro drives a small turbine inside the unit that charges a small capacitor which powers the device to both calculate the energy used and to display the results on the screen. Enough energy is generated to display the results for three minutes after the shower has stopped allowing a manual recording of the energy and water used.
  • It understands the ‘shower on – get wet – shower off – soap on – rinse off’ method of showering in that it allows you to pause for up to three minutes and then restart from where you left off. So, plenty of time for conditioner to work, though possibly not enough time to shave your legs.
  • It challenges you constantly to reduce your use even if your polar bear isn’t sinking. The company is based in Switzerland and a study commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy showed average savings of 23% in households with the device fitted. An impressive 440 kWh of energy and 8,500 litres of water per household. 1 I can certainly understand why. Even without any discernible difference in my polar bear’s ice floe I feel I should be out of that shower more quickly than I am.

My only concern is that the accuracy is plus or minus 10% at a flow rate of 15 litres/minute with the information that at greater or lesser flow rates accuracies will be greater than this. That’s the first time I’ve ever been sad that our shower delivers water at 7.5 litres/minute! And it would be great if it would send the information to their website automatically, without the need to manually note down the info after every shower. Well this is the amphiro a1. The amphiro b1, which does exactly that, is in production and will be out in spring 2015. Brilliant!

My original plan had been to install it in Lydz’s house given as she and her flatmates have 20 minute showers. A 23% reduction in energy and water from showers in their household would equate to something like a 400% reduction in ours (if such a thing were possible in real life). But as I need to measure the difference between a 15 litre shower at 28 degrees C v one at 42 degrees C and to research the greater than +/- 10% inaccuracies of our shower, I need to keep it for a bit longer. And to be honest I love it so much that a move anywhere is nowhere near imminent!


  1. The data was taken from 48,000 showers across 697 households.
December 2014 – Showering with polar bears