Most of the reports we prepare are (unfortunately) not available in the public domain. But luckily some of them are; either because they are funded via the public purse or because we thought the information was important enough to spend our own resources on getting them out there. We hope you find them informative and useful.
During 2015 and 2016 we collected data from 376 adolescents during the workshop ‘Is your shower killing the polar bears?’ devised and delivered by ech2o as part of Thames Water’s Water Efficiency in Schools Programme. We asked them whether they could (or would) meet the four minute shower challenge and what (if anyhting) would induce them to get out of the shower quicker.
And this is what they told us!
‘Does anyone out there still have shallow baths?’ we asked ourselves idly on a slow day in the ech2o office.
4 years and 2,234 willing punters later we can finally say… read the report and find out!
We challenged a bunch of adolescents to dare to take the ech2o shower survey. Most of them whey were too ‘busy’ (loosely speaking) to get round to it. But a whole pile of other people did and we have analysed the results. See how long and how often they shower, what types of shower they have, how many could meet the four minute shower challenge, whether anyone would consider the turn-off-while-you-soap-up method of showering, and precisely what people do while they wait for the shower to get hot.
Research by ech2o confirms that the practice of estimating water savings in schools assuming three uses of the WC a day results in an overestimation of potential savings (both of water and monetary) by a factor of 2 in primary schools and up to 6 times in secondary schools. Analysing data collected from over 600 school pupils this report details the behaviour of secondary school and primary school pupils when using toilets or urinals.
When we published our ground breaking report “Is the five minute shower an urban myth?” back in February 2010 it was followed by many other organisations doing their own research that proved we were correct. We are pleased to have been at the forefront of understanding how people actually behave when showering and look forward to the same thing happening this time around WC use at schools.
Bromley Council approached ech2o with a request for an overview of how efficient their schools were with regard to water usage. The council had data from 2005 to 2007. In the light of a lack of resources to collect more recent data, we analysed water consumption totals and patterns of use across those years, and benchmarked the schools in Bromley against national indicators. We highlighted high users of water, calculated the cost implications of excessive water consumption in those schools, and recommended a series of cost effective water efficiency measures.
The report available to download here is an abridged version and schools have been given a number instead of a name.
We asked some people about their shower use, crunched the numbers to see whether the average shower length in the UK really was five minutes and wrote up the results. Then two years later we added a whole pile of new data. So two report for the price of one!
Is the five minute shower an urban myth? 1
A lot of policy decisions that are made to reduce water use in the UK are based on the fact that the average shower time is five minutes. ech2oanalysed the data collected from 415 people in the UK aged from 7 to 70, to find a very different result.
I wanted to thank you for your excellent survey ‘is the 5 minute shower an urban myth?’ There is very little publicly available information on this and most of what is there is anecdotal, poorly collected or out of date. Yours is the best survey i have found (in terms of stated methodology, sample size and results analysis and presentation)
I have used your survey as part of a raft of support to help raise funding for our recirculating shower systems – there is a lot of industry scepticism about the financial viability of ultra efficient showers, partly due to the poor information on shower habits and times. Your survey goes a long way to helping us disprove this scepticism.
Thank you. Nick Christy, CINTEP.
Is the five minute shower an urban myth? 2
Following on from their ground breaking first report, “Is the five minute shower an urban myth?” , ech2o have collected and analysed data from a further 785 respondents. The results are quite different from the first survey, with more people having shorter showers, but the answer to the question posed remains the same. Average shower times in the UK are still greater than five minutes.
Merely Installing water saving features without facing up honestly to the underlying behavioural issues is arguably box ticking at best and approaching futile at worst. Cath Hassell has shown us all how we can quickly and easily get the behaviours right to support substantial reductions. Practical, effective and down to earth as ever, Cath and her team at ech2o highlight the importance of whole system thinking about water use.
Neal Landsberg, Chair of SWIG (The Sustainable Water Industry Group)
We ran this particular project in conjunction with Hackney City Farm as part of their 60 steps to 60% initiative. We worked directly with 2,403 pupils and 120 teachers across 10 schools. We estimated that the cumulative saving from pupils and teachers reducing their hot water use at home was 16,751m3 of hot water and 174.5 tonnes of CO2.
Our work was based on the ‘Be Water Aware!’ series of workshops that we run with school pupils and Housing Association tenants across the UK, focusing on participants understanding exactly where they use most water and how simple behavioural change solutions, combined with low tech water efficiency devices can result in large amounts of water saved.
The project won first prize in the behaviour change category at the inaugural SWIG awards in 2011.
“Be Water Aware is a project that if rolled out through the country could have great benefits for the UK’s water and energy consumption.” John Griggs. Chair of the judging panel
Water use in the hospitality sector is high due to a combination of many factors including large customer numbers, long opening hours and a high turnover of staff. Implementing zero-cost or low-cost water efficiency measures can result in large savings. The difficulty is how to get premises within this sector to buy into water efficiency. In 2007 and 2008, in 2 projects funded by SEEDA, ech2o worked within the hospitality sector to understand the barriers to implementing water efficiency measures within this sector, and ultimately to succeed in reducing the water consumption of the pubs, clubs and restaurants that were involved.
Stage one of the project was carried out for Crawley Council in 2007.ech2o identified and implemented water efficiency measures in over 40 businesses within the hospitality sector saving over 5,000 m3 of water a year, an average saving of 115m3 of water per premises per year. ech2oalso fitted data loggers to ten premises to start to understand patterns of water use within this sector. A comprehensive report detailing the project, considering the best way to ensure buy-in of the businesses, and analysing the savings made, is available to download on the right.
In 2008, ech2o expanded the scope of the project and worked with eight Local Authority partners and two water supply companies, across the South East. ech2o trained selected staff to carry out water audits and implement the simple water efficiency measures, rather than doing it themselves. As chains had proved difficult to engage with in Crawleyech2o were tasked to specifically target chains to understand their reluctance to take up locally offered water efficiency solutions. Total water savings achieved under this stage of the project are calculated to be 2812m3 of water across 51 premises, an average saving of 55m3 of water per premises per year. The comprehensive report considering the successes and failures of this approach is available to download on the right. In addition this report also analyses the year’s worth of data collected from the Crawley loggers.
Anybody tasked with implementing a sustainable water policy within premises in the hospitality sector should read these reports. In addition, both reports will provide Local Authorities with the knowledge to understand the barriers to implementing water efficient measures within businesses under their jurisdiction and how to help those same businesses save money and water. This, in turn, will enable Local Authorities to meet some of their water and carbon targets.