Effectiveness of feedback in reducing water and energy use in residence hall showers

Water scarcity is a growing concern globally. As a component of Earth Month in April 2022, we studied potential for water conservation in University Housing residence halls, specifically investigating showers.

Showers require significant amounts of water and energy (for water heating) and present opportunities for greater efficiency and conservation. Literature often highlights the importance of financial incentives in promoting conservation behavior; however, students in residence halls lack the financial incentive to change shower durations. We examine the effectiveness of feedback in promoting water (and associated energy) conservation behaviors in University Housing showers.

Shower water meter with visualization app (source: getpani.com)

We installed individual shower meters across several residence halls and collected control data to represent baseline shower duration and water use. With this baseline, we then implemented feedback methods to inform students regarding water usage.