The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme is a national scheme to help Australians save water in their homes. WELS reduces demand for drinking water by informing consumers about water efficiency at the point of sale.
Under the scheme products such as taps, toilets and showerheads must be tested under standardised conditions by a government regulator. Each product is given a comparative rating score to indicate the product’s efficiency (between 1 and 6 stars). In 2017-18 the WELS scheme helped salve 100GL of water and by 2021 the use of water efficient products will help reduce domestic water use by an estimated 150,000 million litres each year. Saving water is also saving customers money on their bills. Households and businesses are now saving over $1 billion a year on utility bills as a result of the WELS scheme. This is expected to climb to over $2.6 billion dollars a year by 2036.
Dual Flush Toilets
Invented in Australia over 30 years ago, the dual flush toilet has undergone radical redesigns since to produce some of the most water efficient toilets in the world. The first dual flush system released 11 litres on full flush and 5.5 litres on half flush. Dual flush toilets that achieve a WELS rating of four stars now use about 4.5 and 3 litres - close to half of the original system. Sydney Water’s toilet replacement program installed over 28,000 toilets between 2008/2011. Each toilet replacement saves an estimated 23,000 litres per household per year
Water Saving Showerheads
Showering uses large volumes of water in the home. A water inefficient showerhead can use 12-22 litres per minute. Switching to a WELS rated water saving showerhead uses 9 litres per minute or less. A water efficient showerhead can save more than 26 litres of water for an average 7 minute shower, which is more than 9,000 litres of water per person in the household per year. Going from a 9L to a 7.5L flowrate can mean saving more than 5000L of water per year!
In Melbourne’s largest program, 460,000 showerheads were exchanged for WELS rated water-saving showerheads. Measured savings in Melbourne ranged from 8500 to 12400 litres per household per year.
Water Efficient Washing Machines
One of Perth's water efficiency programs lasted from 2003/2009 and 80,000 rebates for washing machines were provided in the first two years, rising to 200,000 at the end.