When I was soaking in a nice hot bath the other day just letting my cares float away it dawned on me—again—what an unrivaled luxury a hot bath is.
Throughout most of human history a hot bath was so rare (if it happened at all) as to be beyond the concept of luxury. After all, it was likely shared in small tubs, and therefore in filthy water. Few luxuriate in that. Sure, there were Roman aqueducts and public baths, but they were plagued with problems—hardly a family affair.
Now if you were royalty, or maybe nobility, gentry, or the landed wealthy, perhaps you were able to indulge from time to time. But this was only made possible by a vast staff of laborers or slaves to get the wood for the fire to heat enough water and then haul it to you and then keep this up, since the room (and hence the vessel you were in) were likely lukewarm to cold at best.
Everyone a king, everyone a queen
But not me baby. Not you. We’re kings and queens, now. Just turn on the taps and let it flow. The hot water heater kicks into motion, the tub fills up, the candles go on, maybe the wine comes out and it’s the spa life. And we owe it all to fossil fuels.
There are some who call fossil fuels “energy slaves” because they’re like magic rocks and magic elixirs that can do what no other energy source could possibly do as cheaply and as readily. They’ve made us all live better than the kings and queens of yore.
Too bad the party’s almost over. And anyway, for most of the world’s population today—you know, the several billion who don’t have the option to luxuriate in a hot bath—the fossil fuel era never fully reached them, except maybe the pollution.
I like taking hot baths. I don’t want that to go away. I don’t take one every day, but I like to know they’re there when I want one. Being a queen is fun!
May the (limited) force be with you
But, cue the dream sequence…
I remember the day my frugal, I mean conservation-minded husband said he was changing the shower heads in our house to low flow ones. I reacted to this news like a petulant, spoiled brat:
But my hair! Those low flow things wont wash out my shampoo. Besides, the shower is the only 15 minutes I have to myself and I’m not going to feel very relaxed with a flaccid trickle of water coming down at me! Nya!
His arguments that low-flow shower heads are NEW AND IMPROVED didn’t sway me. But my temper tantrum didn’t sway him either. He ordered the basic Oxygenics version that day. But to placate me he promised to return it if I was totally unhappy.
Well, long story short, I not only noticed no difference, I actually think this puppy concentrates the pressure more. My showers have been more than fine, and mind you, I was prepared to gripe!
Apparently there are “shower massage” low-flow heads out there too, like this WaterPik Eco-flow head, but it has mixed reviews as far as water pressure goes.
Beyond the ultra-basic ones in use at our house, there are higher-end versions available. Since I’m not running a product-testing institute here I can’t do a big compare and contrast about their merits, but you might look here to start exploring your options.
Opening the taps and just letting it flow is so everyday to us kings and queens of the Western world that we give nary a thought to the fact that water is an absolutely precious resource and totally necessary for human life and health.
Human beings are mostly made up of water. Yet we bring very little consciousness to our heavy use of this most essential element. I’d like to see that change. As a Christian, I also see it metaphorically, as the spirit, and feel doubly inclined to treat this precious resource with honor and thoughtful stewardship.
A low flow shower can cut your shower water use in half. This saves money not only in your water bill, but also in the electricity or gas to heat it.
Using less is conservation, which is a perspective and practice of respect and care for our natural resources.
If you really want to kick it up a notch, get a shower timer, and learn to get in, get clean, get out. Water is frankly too precious for all but the rarest indulgences in luxuriating pleasure, however fun it might be.
Some other day I’ll tell you about a solar hot water heater, since that will be the only way for a hot bath or shower if (actually when) the fuel supply lines are compromised due to declining resources.
In the meantime, do your part and get the low flow head and the timer. Maybe even skip a shower from time to time. I know that’s radical, but there’s worse things you could do.
–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List