Friday, December 3, 2010

Showers (or, the best of the USA part 1)

I get home from work... feeling tired and stressed. I put something to cook on the stove. Then comes the moment that makes anything feel much better: a steamy shower! There are variations in temperature (I don't mind taking cold showers once in a while when the temperature is high), in methods and in volume of water.

Home to the infamous bucket and pitcher. I don't like having to hold the pitcher and getting it full of soap. And, while at some places you have hot and cold taps to adjust the temperature, in others you still have to boil water and then proceed with mixing in cold water. I can take it, but am not a fan. It does get an A+ for efficiency though...

Ok, mine is not so shiny... But there are a few perks:
1) The shower head tends to turn and twist around without notice and usually goes everywhere but straight ahead (as seen in pic). Or you can take it off the hook...
2) Noticed that there is no shower curtain? This is not always so, but I've seen this (what I consider indispensable accessory) missing more than once. Differently from India, bathrooms here are not wet. So what is the fun of taking a shower if you have to take care the entire time not to flood the bathroom?
3) Why are they always so low? Norwegians are definitely tall (I'm about average here) and the support for the shower head usually is only as tall as my shoulder (one more reason to use it as handheld).
In my opinion these points make them barely better than the bucket-and-pitcher combo.

Ok, so here we have the usual electric shower used in most households in Brazil.
Not handheld: check!
Height above head: check!
So what is the issue here? Water is heated as it goes through coil in the shower head. This means that the shower only has so much "capacity", meaning that the more water comes out the less it heats. In the Summer this is not a problem since the country is so warm. But in the Winter this means ending up taking a shower of droplets. And in case the fuse blows... bad luck, cold water for the rest of the shower!

Ah... bliss! Shower curtain in place, right height, hot water and, get this: the more you open it the MORE hot water comes out! Add to this that most houses have good water pressure and that's it, your daily troubles are down the drain! I must admit that when I first moved to the US from Brazil, in January in Virginia, I took a cold shower for 2 days because I did not figure out that you have to open the shower more (not less) to have hot water come out. But after this small quirk was fixed I was hooked! Oh, how I miss the US showers! 
Definitely not efficient though...


  1. And....Oh how we love our guilty pleasure of hot inefficient showers. :)

    I must admit that I do feel guilty sometimes enjoying such showers, but when I think about how one day I may only have an Indian bucket.....then I'm more than happy to indulge myself while I still can. When the day comes, it will be a really hard transition, but I guess I'll have no choice but to get used to it.


  2. I have to admit, I take advantage of a real hot shower these days. In my house growing up we had a tiny water heater and baseboard heat. So in the winter (when you need it the most) you might get two minutes of hot water then have to finish it lukewarm, or try to conserve and slowly, slowly, slowly turn up the heat.

  3. I love to wallow in mud. Showers are not a prerequisite for hippos but that's for another day...for now this animal is just curious: Isn't that Brazilian shower-head a potential hazard (as in potential death-trap)? I am not sure I would love getting electrocuted top down.

  4. Ah the infamous bucket and mug! I hate it too, and we don't use it much in our home prefering the shower heads that come as part of now more and more standard Indian bathroom equipment, the drawback is that it still need to be attached to an electric heater, and we right now have a version similar to the Brazilian thing you are writing about, if the pressure in the pipes is too high and the flow too fast the heater can't cope and you get lukewarm water. In our old appartment we had a more conventional heater that need to be switched on 15-20 minutes before you want to shower...a pita when you want to get clean fast after a messy activity, and yes of course you still wet everything...argh! In Switzerland you or have a shower cubicle or a tub with curtains, and in bigger homes even both, I miss that.

  5. Hi Hippo,
    Well, while having had electric 110v shocks while turning the shower on (on the handle) it is nothing seriously damaging hehehe. Jokes aside, I've never heard of anyone having greater issues with the showers than this one.

  6. One of my favorite thing to have a hot shower. I simply love it. Sometimes I have had a shower for over an hr or so! And I love turning up the heat ...slowly until it gets real hot.. My shoulders turn red/burnt. I love it.

    Recently,I built a new house here in Texas and there is a new building code for conserving water, the builder put a shower head that does not have enough pressure. This is deliberate so we don't waste much water.

    The thing is, I am told that I can go to Home Depot and get a different shower head and change it to full blast!

    Been wanting to do this, but been too lazy.. Every time I am in the shower I do a "Note to self" and then forget about it.


  7. Hi Manny,
    I must say that I am too water conscious to take long showers. A., on the other hand, would spend hours in the shower if it wasn't for me bugging him to get out :P