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What is a Shower Timer?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A shower timer is exactly what it sounds like: it is a device which can be used to time showers. Shower timers are used to keep track of and sometimes to restrict water usage. They come in a variety of formats and styles intended for various situations, from hotels to private homes. Some hardware stores carry shower timers, and they can also be purchased through companies which carry products designed to encourage or facilitate energy and resource conservation.

At its most basic, a shower timer simply indicates how long someone has been in the shower. People can either hit a button to start the timer, or the timer can automatically start when the water is turned on. Depending on where it is installed, the shower timer's display may be in the shower itself, encouraging people to shower quickly, or it may be on the outside of the shower, allowing someone to check on his or her water usage after the shower is complete.

In addition to being used as a passive monitor, a shower timer can also have a more active role. It can be set to turn the shower off after a set period of time, encouraging people to shower within the allotted time. Depending on the design, the shower timer may require a waiting period or a complex series of steps before it can be turned back on again after it has turned the shower off. Many shower timers which automatically turn the shower off will beep or flash when the time is almost up, alerting people to the need to be quick.

In homes where a lot of people share one shower, a shower timer can be a useful reminder to hurry and to conserve hot water, ensuring that everyone who wants to take a shower in the morning can do so. Shower timers can also be used to encourage people to be more mindful about water usage, resulting in an overall reduction of water use for a household.

For people who take combat showers or baths, shower timers can be problematic, unless they are linked to the flow of the water, rather than the amount of time spent in the bathroom. Someone who turns the water on and off several times during their shower might stay in the bathroom longer than others, but use less water in the end, and someone who takes a bath could potentially linger for hours.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1005429 — On Aug 26, 2021

We stayed in a guest house in the UK, and we were "shocked" by a device called Acqua Tempus, a shower timer that restricts the maximum shower time, and saves a lot of energy and water.

At first we didn't like it, but we immediately found out how sensible this device is to prevent wasting gas and water.

By anon1004679 — On Mar 30, 2021

I have spent some days in Perth (AU) in a guest house, they had a shower timer to prevent tourists from wasting water and gas; it was something called Acqua Tempus, and I realized how much water and energy we were saving thanks to this device.

Hope this helps.

By geekish — On Oct 03, 2011

If anyone is looking for the shower timer as a way to conserve water, I have another way to conserve water if they have a shower with a tub.

One year while I was living in North Carolina there was this massive drought. People on well systems were literally running out of water. So there were countywide initiatives on conserving water.

The conservation tool I came away with was to have a bucket in your shower tub and while you are running your tub water waiting for it to get warm, have the water go into the bucket.

Then you can use the water bucket for whatever you need - watering your garden or what I heard a lot of people using it for was filling up their washer.

Going through that experience made me more conscious about water usage, something I had never been really too conscious about before then.

By Saraq90 — On Oct 03, 2011

I am not a morning person so I am looking to get as much time as I can in bed, I'm thinking the more sleep I get the better I feel when I wake up (one can hope, right?)

I am thinking that a waterproof shower timer will do just that if I take shorter showers then that will give me close to ten minutes extra time in bed. However, I wonder if that will be counterproductive to my attitude as I may not be that happy about being rushed...

But then you add in the added benefits of reducing my water bill every month. I might just smile while taking my short shower thinking about what I might buy with the extra cash.

I don't think I would buy a shower time that shut off my water. That just seems too abrupt for me!

By runner101 — On Oct 02, 2011

I really need to invest in a shower timer, as sometimes I can take up to an hour! This is a lot of time and a lot of wasted water! I don't think the shower timers that just say how long you are in the shower would work for me, because I tried a waterproof watch for that, and it did not affect my timing at all.

I would need to invest in one of those shower timers that shut off after a specific time, that seems like the only way I will save time and water. I would not set my timer for less than fifteen minutes though, anything less than that and I feel too rushed and stressed out! I think it is nice that some of these shower timers have a warning light or sound so you know to get yourself into gear quickly!

By starrynight — On Oct 02, 2011

@JessicaLynn - You're lucky you live somewhere where you don't have to pay for the water. Unfortunately, if you live in a house, the water bill can get pretty pricey.

My parents actually installed a shower timer in their shower awhile back. They have one that just says how long you've been in-it doesn't turn the water off or anything. My mom told me she's been taking shorter showers than before. Even though she didn't think she was taking very long showers, she used to spend about 25 minutes in there before they got the timer!

By JessicaLynn — On Oct 01, 2011

I'm amazed at how many people have posted about living in apartments but having to pay the water bill. I've never lived in an apartment where the water wasn't included in the rent.

This is very, very lucky for me. I love to take a nice hot shower in the morning. I find it very relaxing. I don't think I take excessively long showers though. But if I had a shower timer that turned the water off after a specified amount of time, I think I would be really stressed out in the morning.

I know showers are primarily for cleaning yourself, but I find them a calming part of my morning routine. I would hate to ruin it!

By Mykol — On Sep 30, 2011

Every summer we go to a rustic youth camp in the mountains. While we are fortunate enough to have hot showers, the water supply for the week is limited.

There is only so much water for the whole week, and once we run out they don't bring in anymore water.

Every year we are reminded to take military showers. It is not in the budget to have shower clock timers installed, but this would probably make a difference for some people. A timer would be the only way to regulate this and make sure everyone took a short shower.

Many years they completely shut off the water for several hours a day, but we have never run out of water yet. They must figure if we really want to make sure we have enough water for the week, we will be sure and take quick showers.

By honeybees — On Sep 30, 2011

At one point our family of five lived in a house with one bathroom. Needless to say, this took some planning ahead to make sure everyone got a shower - especially a hot one.

There was no way you could even think about running the dishwasher or washing machine when people needed to shower in the morning.

There were so many times when I thought installing a shower timer for the kids. The girls had a hard time realizing how important it was to take a short shower.

If I didn't continually remind them, they could stay in the shower until all the hot water was gone. This has been many years ago, and both of those girls are on their own now, but they still like to take long, hot showers!

By SailorJerry — On Sep 29, 2011

@jennythelib - Well, I guess the problem solved itself eventually. I would have given her a piece of my mind!

I lived with three other guys right after college and we were all just dead broke. We couldn't have afforded to subsidize someone's shower habit. We thought about getting a shower timer cut off, but we couldn't really afford one!

Instead, we just agreed to all take "combats showers," which the article mentions. You turn on the water to get wet, soap yourself, then turn it back on to get rinsed. It's chilly in the winter, but it really saves on water! Sometimes I'll still start taking combat showers for a week or two if I'm feeling particularly broke, but I haven't been able to talk my (enormously pregnant) wife into giving it a try! (Go figure.)

By jennythelib — On Sep 29, 2011

I lived in a group house once and we always joked that we needed a timer for our shower. We had this one roommate who would keep the water running for probably half an hour, then spend another forty-five minutes drying her hair and putting on her face (as my mother used to say). And we only had two bathrooms for six people!

In the end, of course, we just gritted our teeth and said nothing and eventually the problem solved itself. She got engaged and moved in with her intended. What he thought of the marathon bathroom sessions is between them! The replacement roommie had a shaved head. The difference in the water and electric bills wasn't huge, but it was definitely enough to notice.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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