The problem with so many energy saving ideas, from compact fluorescent bulbs to water saving showers, is that they often deliver a miserable experience. Because there really is nothing like an old-fashioned shower that pumps out the gallons. That's what's so interesting about the new Hamwells e-shower, which filters, heats and recirculates shower water up to seven times: not only do you save 80 percent of the energy and 90 percent of the water compared to a normal shower, but it can pump out 15 litres per minute, or five times as much as a low flow shower head. That's going to feel like a real old-fashioned shower.
But because it is recirculating, one uses a fraction of the water and the energy. Interestingly, there is an accessory telephone shower that does not recirculate, so if you are nervous about its ability to filter out your shampoo, you can apply and rinse conventionally, and then luxuriate in the long hot recirculating shower. That is, I think, the key to the success of this- it's not just about sustainability but also about comfort and luxury; now you can stay in the shower for as long as you want and not feel guilty using up all that water and energy.
CEO Rob Chömpff demonstrated the shower in London at a TechCrunch event and explained the sustainability aspects of the shower:
A traditional 10-minute shower requires 100 liters of warm, clean water. This precious resource is used only once before it flushes down the drain. This collective habit is unsustainable, because worldwide droughts and shortages are on the rise. We wanted to make our homes all electric and energy-neutral in order to join the worldwide drive towards sustainability and decarbonization, but we quickly discovered that the infrastructure of a house and hotel was sized upon the demands of the traditional shower. Requiring 10 liters of warm water a minute for a sustained period, the traditional shower demands huge investments in solar panels, electric boilers and the like. It was the linchpin blocking the sustainable energy neutral buildings of the future.
The sustainability factor is a great raison d'être, but this is going to sell on the luxury, the ability to have a great deluge of water like we used to, without guilt or running out of water. And given the price of €2,950 ($3,190) that is probably a very good thing.
It's all very clever; the drain has a mechanism that opens when it is on conventional shower mode and closes on recirculating mode. Of course it also comes with an app so you can control it from your phone, just what you want to do in the shower. Oh wait, according to Engadget the app does more than that.
Simply connect your phone to the unit before you get in and you'll be able to enjoy the morning radio or Spotify playlist of your choice. Four buttons on the side of the display will also let you activate / deactivate the shower, also letting you have granular control of the water temperature. The companion app for iOS / Android also does the usual things that such services offer, like letting you gamify your showering and make you feel smug about how much money you'll save each morning.
OK, so the app is probably silly. But the rest of it is really smart and this will do very well in the luxury market. More at Hamwells.