At LC Designer Homes, we value the options available to clients when building or renovating that improve the performance of their home, are environmentally beneficial and might save them a dollar or two in the long run.
The below article provided by the Ministry for the Environment, Manatū Mō Te Taiao looks at water efficient products, why we should choose them and how to understand the labels and jargon used.
With water restrictions in place in Auckland (as of May 2020), understanding water efficiency helps everyone to make some good decisions now and into the future.
Choosing water efficient products
If you are looking to buy an appliance that uses water, such as a clothes washer or dishwasher, consider choosing one that uses less water. Reducing water use is good for the environment.
What water efficiency labelling is about?
The New Zealand water efficiency label provides information on a product’s water consumption and efficiency to help you choose products that use less water.
Why choose water efficient products?
Many factors influence your decision when buying a new product, such as cost, brand, performance, recommendations and past experience.
Saving water should also be a deciding factor in determining the type of product you buy. It’s a one-time purchase that will have an ongoing effect on your water use for years.
Using water more efficiently has both economic and environmental benefits.
Saving water can save you money
Conserving water can reduce your water charges if you live in an area that uses water meters. Even if you aren’t on metered water, you are paying for water through your rates.
The more pressure we collectively put on our water supply systems, the more money our local councils will have to spend maintaining and enhancing their water supply networks. That costs everyone in the long run. Choosing a product that uses less heated water will also help reduce your energy bills.
Saving water is better for the environment
It’s important not to waste water. Our lakes and rivers are feeling the pressure of a growing population and changes in the way we use water. There are shortages in some areas at certain times of the year. Climate change is predicted to affect rainfall patterns, which may increase pressure on freshwater quantity and flows.
Water efficiency labelling applies to the following product types:
What the labels display
Water efficiency labels display two main pieces of information:
The star rating shows you how efficient the product is compared to others. The more stars, the more water efficient.
The water consumption or water flow figure tells you how much water the product uses. All water efficient labels have a water consumption or flow figure in:
- litres per minute (for showers or taps)
- litres per wash (for clothes washing machines and dishwashers)
- litres per flush (for lavatories or urinals).
Water efficiency labels on showers and taps also show the water pressure system they are intended for. That’s because the water efficiency rating of showers and taps depends on whether they were designed for use in mains pressure systems or in areas of low or unequal pressure.
In some instances, you may see a text alternative to the label, especially if the product is too small to carry a label.
Where the labels are displayed?
Water efficiency labels are only displayed on new products, not second-hand products.
Labels (or a text alternative) must be displayed at the point of sale (either physically displayed in the store, or available online for internet shopping).
How much water could be saved?
How much water you’ll save will depend on the rating of the product you choose to buy, and the rating of the product that you’re replacing.
For example: For an 8-kg washing machine, switching from a 3-star machine to a 4.5-star machine could save around 49 litres per wash. That means if you do 5 loads per week you could save around 14,000 litres per year – equal to 140 bath tubs.
Switching from a 3-star to a 4-star shower head could save up to 4.5 litres per minute. If you have an 8 minute shower every day, that’s a saving of more than 13,000 litres per person over a year – equal to 130 bath tubs.
Of course, it’s not just about what you buy, but also how you use it.
- Washing machines and dishwashers will often have an “eco” setting, which uses less water than other settings. Check your appliance’s instruction manual to find out which settings are best to use.
- No matter what star rating your tap or showerhead is, you’ll save more water if it’s not running as long. Reducing your shower time, and doing things like turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, will save water too.
How to know your product really is efficient
You can rely on the water efficiency labelling to give you accurate information. The Australia/New Zealand Standard for Water efficient products – Rating and labelling AS/NZS 6400 sets out the product tests that must be performed to determine the information for the water efficiency label.
The Standard also requires performance tests, so that products tested for water efficiency will also be tested for functionality.
A product can still be sold in New Zealand if it fails any of the tests, but it must carry a zero-star-rated water efficiency label.
For more environmental information specific to New Zealand, visit the Ministry for the Environment website