"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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Digital shower timers are waterproof, safe to use and come with a strong suction cup so they can be easy attached to the shower wall.
The timers are battery operated and have programmable buttons to set countdown time, alarm, etc. What I don't like about some models is that the shower time can be set for up to 99 minutes. This feature kind of defeats the purpose for installing a shower timer, namely to cut down water usage by taking short or shorter showers and to lower your energy costs.
If you shop around or go online you may find a five minute digital shower timer with a large LED readout. They are inexpensive and can be bought for less than ten dollars. Look for a timer that can be attached to the shower wall with a suction cup.
WARNING. Stay away from digital shower timers that come with double sided tape to attach it to the shower wall. It is IMPOSSIBLE to change the battery when it runs out without prying the timer of the wall!!
The most simple wind-up shower timer is already in your home! That's right, I'm thinking about the old stand-by kitchen timer. Place it as close as possible near the shower. If it is too far away from the shower area you may not be able to hear the alarm over the noise of splashing water.
There are also mechanical wind-up shower timers which you can attach to the showerhead. They stop the flow of water at the end of the unwinding motion.

Shower Timers

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Cutting down on the length of time you shower may be a tough thing to do especially when there are teenagers in the family. Installing a shower timer will help to accomplish your goals. Not only will you save on energy for heating the water but there will be also substantial savings by lower water bills and sewage disposal charges. Using less water also is "green" thing to do. A shower timer will pay for itself in a reasonably short amount of time. A 10 minute shower can use as much as 32 US gallons (120 litres of water). If the average family cut their showers by just 2 minutes per shower, they could save over $100/year in hot water heating costs. Shower timers can be mechanical, digital or the old fashion sand timer.

Photos courtesy of The Shower Manager
These type of timers are the most effective as they cut off the water supply completely or reduce it to a trickle after the pre-set time has expired. The reduced flow is good enough for a quick rinse. Some timers also sound a beeper one minute before the full flow cycle ends.
Mechanical shower timers are battery operated and easy to install. They are installed between the shower arm and showerhead, see images above. Simply remove the showerhead, attach the timer to the shower arm and reattach the showerhead to the timer. Shower timers are safe to operate and have no negative impact on the water temperature.
To prevent "tampering" to extend the full-flow pre-set time most units are programmed with a five minute reset interval.
If you are on a low pressure well system and someone else in the house flushes the toilet  there may be a quick loss of water pressure tricking the unit into thinking you turned off the shower. It then goes into the five minute "reset period" before water flow can be restored. Not all timers react the same to low water pressure but if you do experience problems there is a simple solution: Do not flush the toilet or turn on the lawn sprinkler when someone else is taking a shower.

This type of shower timer is inexpensive, easy to install and to use. However, sand timers only work if you are really willing to change the habit of taking long showers and turn them into short ones.
Sand timers come with a large suction cup on the back so they can be easy attached to the shower wall. Sand timers come in all kind of shapes and sizes. They are safe to operate, do not require maintenance and are easy to use.
When you begin your shower just turn the timer around till the sand starts to fall. When, after five minutes, all the sand has fallen to the lower half you know that it is time to turn off the taps.

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