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Challenges of researching showering routines: From the individual to the socio-material

Simpson, Karen; Staddon, Chad; Ward, Sarah


Karen Simpson

Chad Staddon
Professor/Associate Head of Department: Research and Scholarship

Dr Sarah Ward
Associate Professor in Community Resilience (within CWCR)


In the UK, water supplies are under pressure from climate, population and lifestyle change. Showering is the largest component of domestic water consumption. Young adults are high
water-users at a transitional life-stage, when practices are dynamic, and habits shaped. This paper presents the methodology, early findings and reflections on challenges of working with different data types and scales, to explore real-world water-saving through a mixed-methods approach, focusing on showering patterns of first year university students in campus accommodation at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. Combining household meter, logged water-fixture
micro-component, personal-use questionnaire, user diary and stakeholder focus group data with the Scottish Government Individual-Social-Material model, typical showering demand reduction interventions were evaluated and insights into alternative interventions were generated. Results indicate Estates’ routine equipment maintenance and database management affect data quality and consistency. Despite these issues a profile of daily student water use was derived (equivalent to 114 litres per person per day) but with high variability between different households (from 83 to 151 litres per person per day). Average shower durations (self-reported 10–12 minutes) were higher than reported UK norms, although frequency was similar to the UK daily shower norm. Average measured shower volumes (51 litres in one house) were not excessive, indicating shower fixtures provided a contribution to water saving.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Urban Science
Electronic ISSN 2413-8851
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 1
Pages 1-19
APA6 Citation Simpson, K., Staddon, C., & Ward, S. (in press). Challenges of researching showering routines: From the individual to the socio-material. Urban Science, 3(1), 1-19.
Keywords showering, students, water efficiency, social practice, ISM, metering, interpretive, social science
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