Instant expert

Water Labelling

The low-down on water labelling

Credit: Jamie Tufrey

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The Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) has, since July 2006, controlled how many stars we see on new washing machines, toilets, dishwashers, taps and showerheads.

The more stars the better, with a maximum of six.

As well as a star rating, the label shows a water consumption or water flow figure (per wash, per flush), allowing consumers to compare the water efficiency of different products.

From January 2008 all such products are bound by law to show a WELS rating.

The WELS website has a pretty comprehensive search facility so you can check the star rating and consumption rate of items before you go shopping.

It is pointed out that the star rating does not apply to secondhand products for which consumption efficiency may have been affected by the age of the product.

Smart Approved Watermark

The Smart Approved WaterMark is a labelling scheme that deals with outdoor water-using products and services.

A panel of technical experts from the plumbing, horticulture, and engineering industries assesses products, with the federal government partly funding the group.

Manufacturers can only use a Smart Approved WaterMark if they can prove that their product or service is "directly related to reducing actual water use and/or using water more efficiently".

This includes meeting numerous criteria, and paying a license fee, which allows them to use the label for two years.