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How can world water day motivate you to become more water efficient at home 171 62180 0 14099436 300

Since March 22 is officially World Water Day according to the United Nations (UN), why not use this as a jumping off point and see if you can make any changes around your home to reduce your water usage.

The focus for this year's event is on water and energy, as these two services are closely interlinked and interdependent. You can't have energy generation or transmission without water resources, and vice versa.

Around 8 per cent of worldwide energy generation is used to pump, treat and transfer water to consumers, including both domestic and commercial users, according to the UN.

While the international day aims to raise awareness of the inter-linkages of water and energy as well as contribute to a policy dialogue surrounding the nexus of water and energy, there are things you can do at home in order to help the wider issues.

Consumers who conserve water at home, even if they are not facing a shortage in H2O, can help to reduce the amount of energy required to extract water from rivers, build dams, and treat wastewater at sewage plants. It also reduces the requirement for water and wastewater to be transported and treated, lowering overall energy consumption.

Although they use energy, water efficient appliances can help reduce your overall footprint. Here's what you need to know if you are looking to take this next sustainable step.

How do water-efficient appliances work?

The basis of these appliances is that they can perform the same function as their older counterparts, using a smaller amount of water to get the same result.in other words, there is no effect on the day-to-day running of your everyday life.

Dishwashers and washing machines are key appliances to start with, but there are also fixtures that can be used to reduce the amount of water used, such as more efficient shower heads and water-efficient toilets.

By switching to these items, Australians can save more than $1 billion on their water and energy bills by 2021, according to the Department of Industry.

WELS ratings

WELS stands for water efficiency labelling and standards. It is a scheme to help you compare the water efficiency of a range of products, allowing you to choose the most efficient model.

This labelling system exists for washing machines, dishwashers, showers, taps, flow controllers, toilets and urinals, so if you are looking to buy or replace any of these items, ensure you look at the labels. The rating system uses a six-star guide - the more stars, the better.

Washing machines

The laundry is an obvious place to to look when it comes to water consumption changes.

When shopping for a new machine, first look for WELS star ratings - the higher the better. A high star rating can save up to 50 litres of water on every load, according to the Australian government initiative Your Home.

Make sure you are using the appropriate amount of water for the load you intend on cleaning. If you have an economy cycle, it is best to use this in order to save as much water - and power - as possible.

To save on your electricity prices, it is best to use a cold wash as this will save more energy.

Dishwashers

Another appliance that relies on hot water use is the dishwasher. New, energy-efficient machines use around half the water of an older model. Models with a six-star WELS rating can use less than a litre of water per place setting, which is less than many people use to wash their dishes by hand.

In order to maximise any savings, it is best to avoid rinsing any dishes before washing them. Most dishwashers can handle this kind of mess. Instead, scrape any food scraps off your dishes and dispose of them in the rubbish or compost.

Try to only use this appliance when it contains a full load and use the economy cycle if you have one.

Showerheads

Water efficient showerheads can save individuals around $100-$150 on their household water bills. This is a saving that could trickle down to energy bills, lowering the household's electricity or gas prices by up to $200, according to Department of Industry calculations.

Inefficient models can use around 20 litres of water per second, while an energy efficient one can reduce this to nine litres per minute, or even as low as six or seven litres. This is still enough for you to be able to enjoy a good quality shower. 

Taps

Another easy change to make is to install low-flow taps or tap aerators to your hot water faucets, as these can reduce the amount of water flowing out  from a whopping 18 litres per minute to a more conservative 2 litres per minute. This will mean less water is wasted down the drain.

You should also ensure that your taps are not dripping and that your home does not have any leaks. One common cause of leaks is the over-tightening of taps as this can wear the washer.

Over a year-long period, leaking taps can waste more than 12,000 litres of water, according to Your Home.

These are a few of the changes you can make around your home to reduce your water usage, lowering your carbon footprint and your energy bills simultaneously.

Posted by Tim Wolfenden.