Saving water at home (Part 1)

Going green is not just for hippies, it's a trend that can save you money and help the environment

Environmentally-friendly plumbing. I know, it doesn't really roll off the tongue does it? Well thanks to many of the plumbing courses available through TAFE NSW which already include a strong emphasis on sustainability, it may well influence industry standards and practice in the future.

Generally the Australian public hears the words "environmentally-conscious" and they conjure images of dreadlocked hippies picking flowers. Well saving water doesn't have to be that way. Let's face it, we all want to pay less for our water and energy bills don't we?

In 2005, the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Act was implemented. Its intention was to have a good long look at the way we used water and to regulate the flow from the most used water sources in an average house, mainly our taps and toilets. Since 2005 we have achieved flow rates of almost half of what was previously used.

When WELS was implemented it was estimated that by 2021 Australians would have saved more than $600 million dollars in water charges. This was based on Australians using 5% less water domestically, or 87,200 megalitres each year.

It's estimated that around 22% of the water savings in the average house will come directly from the use of more water effective toilets, about 25% from showers and around 50% from washing machines.

Full points for half flushes

The advancements made in toilets' water usage have been an enormous breakthrough. As recently as 2004 you could have installed a toilet with a cistern holding 12 litres to flush. Now, thanks to WELS, dual flush toilets are compulsory and six litres is the upper limit of water being used for a full flush. Some companies like Caroma have pushed the envelope even further and can full flush with a miserly 4.5 litres!

The water savings from toilets alone in an average house now using half the water equates to millions of litres of water saved per year. You don't need dreadies to be excited by that sort of water saving!

Showers - from 25 litres to seven

We have seen how much water new toilets can save, but consider the shower, a traditional water waster. While a standard shower delivers water at a rate of 25 litres per minute, a new water-saving shower will reduce this to seven litres per minute - that's under a third! So in real terms an eight minute shower can go from using 120 litres to around 70 litres. Not only are we now saving water, we are saving on the costs of heating as there's less water to heat.

Washing with less

Washing machines have been dragged into the new age of plumbing too. A current model 2013 front loader will use one third of the water of a top loader that could be as new as a 2005 model. The humble dishwasher has become more efficient too. The method of marketing dishwashers now is to highlight how much less water they use than doing the dishes manually.

So not only is WELS better for our environment, it can save you a lot of money on your water & electricity bills. Going green is not just for hippies, it's a trend that can save you money and help the environment - and who doesn't love a win-win situation? Next week in Part 2 we'll look at some more great ways you can save water around the home.