About the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards scheme

​​​​​The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme is Australia's urban water saving scheme. WELS reduces demand for drinking water by informing consumers about water efficiency at the point of sale.

Our estimates show that using water efficient products could save Australians more than $2 billion by 2030. That’s an average saving of $175 per household each year.

  • 65% of these savings are from reduced electricity and gas costs from avoided water heating.
  • 35% of these savings are from reduced water bills.

Management of the scheme is the responsibility of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, working in partnership with industry and state and territory governments.

Our purpose

We all have a responsibility to use Australia’s water wisely and reduce consumption — it’s our most precious resource.

The purpose of the WELS scheme is to:

  • conserve water supplies by reducing water consumption
  • promote the adoption of efficient and effective water-using and water-saving technologies
  • provide information for purchasers of water-using and water-saving products.

We achieve these objectives by specifying and enforcing standards for water efficiency and labelling for a range of regulated water-using appliances, fixtures and fittings.

Water efficiency and labelling requirements and criteria are established in Commonwealth, state and territory legislation and related standards.

How the scheme works

This 2022 animation explains how the WELS scheme works.

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Australia is a country of droughts and floods, and climate change models predict more severe droughts and floods in the future. From 2001 to 2009 it suffered one of its worst droughts on record.

Inefficient household appliances, plumbing and sanitary fittings such as taps, showers, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines use a lot of water, a problem in a world of declining freshwater resources.

One way to save water is to buy more efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances, but how do you know which ones are better and more efficient?

Legislation and regulation is Australia’s way of helping customers know which products are efficient and to stop inefficient products from being sold.

The WELS label is now a highly recognisable label that shows customers the water efficiency of various products.
Efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances save households money by reducing water and energy consumption.

The WELS scheme is used when building new homes to make sure the showers, toilets, taps etc, meet a minimum water efficiency.

The WELS scheme is driving innovation and the development of water efficient products as customers are increasingly looking for more efficient products. The saved water is now there for the community, industry, the environment and in times of drought.

37 nations helped develop ISO 31600:2022 – an international standard for water efficiency labelling programs. 
The ISO 31600:2022 could help your country establish a water efficiency labelling program to save water, energy and carbon emissions – helping your country tackle climate change.

Find out more.

What we do

We achieve our objectives by:

  • ensuring standards underpinning the WELS scheme are current and appropriate
  • managing product registrations
  • working with industry to maintain high levels of compliance with registration and labelling requirements.

This in turn helps consumers trust the information provided on the water rating label.

Informing consumers

We help consumers make informed purchasing decisions by ensuring that regulated products are registered and properly labelled with water efficiency information that is easy to read and understand.

Our website also provides advice for consumers on how to choose more water efficient products.

This supports Australians to reduce their water use and save money on their water and energy bills.

Working with industry

Industry participation and compliance is essential to the integrity of the WELS scheme.

We aim to achieve this through education and engagement with suppliers in Australia and overseas. This includes:

When this doesn’t influence suppliers to meet their obligations, we also have legislated powers to take enforcement action.

Find out more about our approach to compliance with WELS legislation.

Evaluating the scheme

We regularly review and evaluate the WELS scheme to make sure that we are achieving our objectives.

This includes a 5-yearly review of the operation of the scheme by an independent reviewer, as required by section 76 of the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005.​​

The most recent review was conducted in 2015.

Who we are

The WELS Regulator is responsible for administering the scheme and for monitoring and enforcing compliance. The Regulator works with industry and state and territory governments to deliver an effective, efficient scheme which achieves its objectives and avoids unnecessary costs to industry.

The role of the WELS Regulator is established under the WELS Act. It is filled by the Head of the Water Policy Division in the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Day-to-day administration of the scheme is performed by the WELS section in the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, on behalf of the WELS Regulator.

Responsibilities of the WELS section include product registrations, communications, standards development, and compliance and enforcement activities.​

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