The difference between a house and a home is how much you love living there. LaunchPad explores the innovative technologies that help you care for your space more effectively.
When I was a child, adults were often unreachable. My mother had a phone at her office and a landline at home, but if I called during her lunch break or over the weekend (my parents were divorced) I’d get her answering machine. Even if I left a message, chances were she wouldn’t hear it for hours.
As I got older, I began to understand the benefits of being inaccessible. When I was teenager, I made contact with my parents only when necessary. I’d call my mom from a friend’s cordless the Sunday morning after a sleepover when it was time to be picked up, or feed a downtown payphone quarters to tell my dad I was hanging out with my boyfriend and wouldn’t be home for dinner. But as soon as I walked away from the phone booth, I was once again unsupervised. My parents couldn’t text me, never mind track my location with a GPS-enabled app. To be out in the world was to be free.
The inaccessibility I took for granted as a teenager is now all but impossible to achieve thanks to laptops, email, phones, and social media. Being unavailable is no longer the default; it’s a choice, and an increasingly difficult one at that.
Except for when you’re in the shower. Though a bevy of phones are now waterproof or at least water-resistant, the technology is new enough that no one expects you to take business calls while washing your hair. No wonder we love to spend a little longer than necessary soaping ourselves up under the shower’s soothing stream; being in the shower is about more than getting clean — it’s about escaping, if only for five minutes, or ten, or fifteen.
Speaking of worldly responsibilities — because, of course, there’s no way to truly evade them: If you’re going to luxuriate in your shower for fifteen minutes every morning, you should know how much water you’re using. To figure out your shower head’s gallon-per-minute (gpm) flow, turn the shower on for ten seconds over an empty bucket; then, multiply however much water you collect by six. According to the specialty website agreatshower.com, if your showerhead is pumping out more than 2.5 gpm, you should consider investing in a lower flow option.
Shower heads manufactured before 1992 still gush up to 5.5 gallons per minute; a family of four whose members each shower for the national average of 8.2 minutes a day could save $100 a year on their water bill by switching to a low-flow head that only emits 1.25 gallons per minute. They’d save additional money on their heating bill; less water coursing through the shower head also means less energy consumed heating that water.
Agreatshower.com recommends the High Sierra High Efficiency Low Flow Showerhead, which pumps water at a respectable 1.5 gpm — a rate high enough that, the website claims, many people can’t tell the difference between the High Sierra and higher flow options. The High Sierra can be found on Amazon for just under $40.
Now that you’ve figured out how to maximize your shower time while minimizing its environmental (and financial) impact, you can put this newly discovered “me” time to good use. Arguments brewing between you and your partner? You and your children? You and yourself? What better place to hone your winning arguments than beneath an environmentally responsible stream of warm water, where not even the most allegedly urgent of workplace emergencies can snatch your preciously hoarded attention away.
Miranda Popkey is an MFA candidate on the fiction track at Washington University in St. Louis. She also freelances; read more of her work here.