In our boondocking (dry camping) seminars, we talk about how to conserve fresh-water usage plus decreasing the amount of water simply going down the drain and filling your grey tank. Through normal daily usage, the grey tank fills 2-4 times faster than the black tank. We addressed many water-saving techniques in one of our other articles entitled, “Boondocking—Here’s How”
Of the many things you can do, one of the easiest methods to conserve considerable amounts of water is to take more efficient showers. Often called a “Navy” shower, this process of showering is a technique the Navy uses to decrease the amount of shower water an individual uses. You can easily test this process for your RV shower. No, we are not talking about some tiny bathtub in your RV and we are not proposing fewer showers. This technique will help, is easy to do, you will take a perfectly good shower, and conserve water, too.
Do You Know How Much Water You Really Use?
What you are going to do is track the amount of time it takes for you to take your normal shower. To be even more accurate, you are going to time how long the water is running down the drain. Then, using the “Navy” shower technique that we explain below, you will time that, too. Then, we convert the time to a volume of water so we can compare your actual water usage for the two different types of showers. If your shower technique uses less water, great! Don’t change anything.
The First Day… Have someone note the total amount of time the shower water is running normally AND just running down the drain while you prepare for and take your “normal” shower. Time the running water even if the person is not standing under the shower (like waiting for the water to warm up)! Do not time the water dribbling through the diverter—just all normal water flowing.
The Second Day… Try this “Navy” shower…
- Catch the shower water in a pot while waiting for the water to warm up. Since this water is clean and usable (for making coffee, washing dishes, etc.) do not time this because it didn’t run down the drain into the grey tank. When the water is warm, close the diverter, step in, and begin your shower.
- Start timing. Turn the water on, step in and quickly get wet, and immediately turn the water off (diverter). Stop timing and note it. Note 1: You will get completely wet by just turning around one time and this should take you about five seconds. The human body cannot get wetter by standing in the water longer or turning around numerous times. Note 2: Now soap and wash as long as you want. Do not time this because the water is not running.
- Restart timing. Turn water on and rinse quickly and thoroughly. Note the time. (If you do not wash your hair every shower, time it both ways.)
The data you should have at this point is the total time the shower water was running for your “normal” shower and the total time the shower water was running for your “Navy” shower. With this information, you can easily calculate your exact water usage and you will know which technique saves the most water.
Now, Use Less
Here’s how… Get a container marked off in gallons (a tub, pot, etc.). Put it in the shower, start timing, and run the shower for a total time equal to when you took your “normal” shower. Run the water at about the same pressure. How much water did you use?
Next, run, catch, and measure the equivalent total water you used for your “Navy” shower. How much water did you use?
At this point, disregard the time and focus on the amounts of water—i.e., gallons used. Using your actual measure (in gallons), how many more showers could you take by using the “Navy shower” technique? How many gallons does your fresh water tank hold? What is the capacity of your grey tank? This translates into how many more days you could boondock without needing fresh water or having to dump grey.
Why Mess With This?
While you may be thinking that you will never need to stay “longer” without hooking up, having the ability and knowledge of how to do this will enhance your travels. Whether you want to stay a few extra days in Furnace Creek Campground in the middle of Death Valley National Park, attend the major RV gathering in Quartzsite, take part in one of the major rallies in the nation, or just happen to be stuck in service for several days (like a holiday weekend), you should know boondocking techniques. Your world of RVing will be greatly enhanced and you will be secure in the knowledge that you are even more independent.