InkWELS – Issue 1, 2017

InkWELS newsletter

Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme

Issue 1, 2017

The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme newsletter has returned after a few years’ pause. We’re planning to circulate a quarterly update to let you know about the latest developments with WELS and highlight some of our achievements.

If you have particular topics that you’d like to see covered in future, please get in touch and let us know.​

Achievements in water efficiency

Woman in a store, looking at the Water Rating label on a dishwasher.

WELS is Australia’s urban water-saving scheme that specifies and enforces efficiency standards and labels on water-using appliances, fixtures and fittings. That means WELS helps businesses and consumers to make decisions that not only reduce household water use, but also helps them save money on water and energy bills. We all have a responsibility to use Australia’s water wisely and reduce consumption, and WELS makes that easier.

The WELS scheme started twelve years ago in 2005–so what has been achieved in that time? According to a study published by the University of Technology Sydney in 2015, quite a bit. 

The Evaluation of the Environmental Effects of the WELS Scheme found that by 2013, the scheme had resulted in water savings of 70 billion litres each year. That’s the equivalent of 28,000 Olympic swimming pools. As Australia’s stock of water-using products continues to shift towards greater efficiency, savings of over 200 billion litres per year are expected by 2030 – this is more than 10% of the total water consumption of Australia’s households, based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

With extra savings in energy consumption because less water is being heated, household savings on utility bills are expected to reach over $2 billion per year in 2030 – which is a savings of around $175 per household each year. Of course, an individual household that installs highly efficient products in place of old, inefficient ones could save even more.

WELS compliance and enforcement

Closeup of blue hard hat, yellow pencil, measuring tape and building plans.

Compliance by industry is vital to maintain the integrity of the WELS scheme and to make sure consumers have confidence in the water rating label. When businesses don’t comply, for example by selling unregistered products or falsifying labelling information, they may undermine public confidence and disadvantage those businesses that do pay their registration fees and provide consumers with accurate information.

WELS encourages suppliers of WELS products to act in accordance with their obligations under WELS legislation. We do this through a range of communication and education activities, by providing information and advice, and through collaboration. However, when an educational approach hasn’t worked, the WELS Regulator may take enforcement action, including by giving infringement notices. The WELS Compliance and Enforcement Policy sets out the approach taken by the WELS Regulator to maximise compliance with the requirements of the WELS Act 2005 and to help in making decisions on compliance and enforcement actions.

The WELS Regulator has recently issued an Infringement Notice Statement to provide clarity about when infringement notices may be given, and the rights and obligations of a person when they receive infringement notices. Penalties for a single infringement notice range from $540 to $1,080 for an individual, and $2,700 to $5,400 for a body corporate—so best to avoid them.

WELS is seeking your input on a Compliance and Enforcement Strategy to identify key areas to focus compliance efforts for the next three years. Consultation will be open until 7 July 2017 – find out how to have your say.

Four-star showers and six-star toilets

Blue blurred background of bathroom interior with towel.

The new WELS standard that came into effect last August made it possible to register and label four-star showers and six-star toilets. Under AS/NZS 6400:2016, high pressure showers with flow rates of between 4.5 and 7.5 L/min can now be registered with a four-star rating. Showers must pass spray force and coverage tests to achieve the rating, making sure that the user experience isn’t compromised.

So far over 80 models of four-star showers and eight models of six-star toilets have been registered with WELS. You can search for these on the WELS website. From the home page, go to Search for a product on the home page. Select the relevant product type from the drop-down tab and click ‘go.’ This will take you to the WELS database. You can then select a star rating and click ‘search’ to bring up products with that rating.

By influencing consumer purchasing decisions, water efficiency labelling encourages water-saving innovations by suppliers and manufacturers to make their products as water-efficient as possible.

Did you know?

Man with clipboard and smartphone at a warehouse.

WELS staff are available during business hours to answer any questions you might have. If you need help to understand what your obligations are, how to register products, or how to check if products you sell are registered and labelled correctly, please call us on 1800 218 478 (Registrations) or 1800 372 746 (Compliance). If you are calling from overseas please call +61 2 6272 5232.

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