Showering

Electric showers

History

The ancient Greeks were the first people to have showers. Their aqueducts and sewage systems allowed water to be pumped both into and out of large communal shower rooms used by the elite and common citizens alike. These advanced water and sewage systems fell out of use after the fall of the Greek and Roman empires.

The first showers in the modern era were self-contained units where water could be re-used several times. You could say they the first environmentally friendly showers! They came into use during the late 18th century when William Feetham of Ludgate Hill in the City of London, a stove-maker and furnishing ironmonger, was granted a patent for his shower in 1767.

This development was followed by the English Regency Shower, anonymously invented and over 10 feet tall. Water was pumped through a nozzle and over the occupant’s shoulders before being collected and pumped back into the basin.

The re-invention of indoor plumbing around 1850 allowed the free-standing shower to be connected to a running water source, making it easier to use.

Innovation

An electric shower is essentially a water heater and is more common in the UK than elsewhere – not least due to the reliability of our electricity supply.

It relies on heating mains-pressure cold water very fast as it flows towards the shower head. There is no pump involved, so the amount of water you get through will depend on your mains water pressure. Electric showers are economical as you heat only the water you need. Should your boiler fail, you can still have a hot shower.

The other type of electric shower is the pumped ‘power’ shower. These connect to both hot and cold water supplies and are essentially mixer showers but using an electrical pump to increase the pressure coming out of the shower head. They therefore use less electricity than an electrically heated shower.

Both electric and power showers have to be connected to a separately fused circuit, so require a qualified electrician to install them for the first time.

For some years it has been argued that a shower uses less water than a bath. However, recent research by Ofgem suggests that showers can use considerably more water and energy than a bath. On the other hand, the Energy Saving Trust (EST) asserts that we can save water and money by taking a quick shower instead of a bath.

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