Ask G

Ask G: Water saving labelling

How do I make sense of water rating labels on home appliances?

I need to replace my washing machine but I'm a bit confused. A few years ago I bought a washing machine with a AAA water-efficiency rating. Now in need of a replacement, I can't find one with the AAA blue droplet sticker for love nor money! But I have come across different labels boasting water efficiency and featuring pictures of water droplets, dolphins and goodness knows what else! What should I look for and who do I believe?

Alison White, Ascot Vale, Vic.

WELS label

The pale blue droplet label from the voluntary AAA-rating has now been replaced with the Government-run Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) label.

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The pale blue droplet label with the AAA-rating was part of the National Water Conservation Rating Scheme. A few years ago, this voluntary program was replaced by the government-run Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme, which is now mandatory for showers, tap equipment, toilets, urinal equipment, dishwashers and washing machines. All new products in these categories manufactured or imported into Australia after 1 July 2006 have to be registered and labelled before they can be sold. Use the number of stars on the labels and their measures of how much water is typically used per cycle to make the most efficient choice.

The other water-efficiency label of note, not related to washing machines, is the Smart Approved WaterMark. This voluntary program identifies products and services that may reduce water use outdoors and includes things like pool covers, waterless car wash products, rain sensors and even garden mulch.