The average bathtub is designed to fit one average-size person comfortably with enough room to recline. Bathtub capacity is calculated as if no one is bathing, so the actual amount of water a bath can hold with a bather is less than the given figures. Knowing a tub's capacity is important when calculating your monthly water bill or considering the environmental impact of your family's water usage.
Standard Tub Capacity
The capacity of a standard tub is directly related to its size. According to Alliance For Water Efficiency, a standard non-jetted bathtub holds between 25 and 45 gallons of water approximately. The average rectangular bathtub is about 30 inches wide and 5 feet long, according to Plumbing-Basics. They come in many different shapes, however, such as circular or rounded models, and this may affect capacity.
Water usage varies significantly depending on how high you fill the tub. If you fill it halfway, you're using around 20 gallons. If you fill it up to or exceeding the overflow valve, you're using between 40 and 50 gallons. Compare this to a shower, which uses about 20 gallons in five minutes. The duration of a bath, on the other hand, does not change the amount of water used. Whirlpool tubs are less efficient, using approximately 80 gallons of water per bath.
You can save water each time you bathe by following a few simple water-saving tips. The EPA recommends plugging the drain immediately and adjusting the water temperature gradually as you fill the bathtub. If you plan to bathe for 15 minutes or more, taking a bath may be preferable to taking a shower. However, a short shower is the best option for saving water, particularly if you have a showerhead with 2.0 to 3.5 GPM (gallons per minute).
If you're concerned about the amount of water you're wasting by taking a bath, consider reusing it for irrigation or other purposes. Reused bath and shower water, often referred to as greywater, is safe to use on lawns, trees and food crops. New Mexico State University states that you should apply greywater directly to soil and avoid contact with the above-ground portion of the plants. Consult a licensed plumber or water treatment specialist before installing a greywater irrigation system.
Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.