Water is a precious resource that should never be wasted; therefore, we need to pay attention to our own daily habits to avoid excess water use. This is never an easy task in the beginning, but by following some basic guidance it is possible to change our habits step by step until our daily routine around water use has been completely changed for the better. Additionally, and equally important, installing water efficient fixtures can greatly reduce your water use. Nowadays there are many options of efficient and well-designed fixtures and appliances that allow you to reduce your bills and your impact on the planet without compromising on style. But how do you know if a water fixture is efficient?
Each type of fixture or equipment has its water use measured in a different way. Water use in showers and taps is measured in litres per minute (L/Min), for toilets it is measured in volume of water per flush and for bathtubs in total water capacity. Water use in equipment like dishwashers can be measured in litres per cycle or in litres per place setting and washing machines will be measured in litres per kilogram of capacity. Whenever you buy a product, this information will be included in the product specifications, which you can check before making a decision between different models.
However, it may be difficult to tell if that product’s performance is considered efficient or not without a standard of comparison. To help consumers make a good choice, the European Water Label was created and has been used on water fixtures since 2014. This is very similar to the labelling of energy-efficient equipment that you may already be familiar with. It rates products in different water use bands from a dark green (very water-efficient) to red (very water-inefficient) scale. Instead of using an A+++ to D, E, F or G scale it uses the actual products water use as numbers on the scale. When looking at the scale you should try and choose products in the dark or light green category.
As the European Water Label is relatively new, you will find that there are products on the market that are not yet labelled, but that doesn’t mean that they are inefficient. In these cases, you can use the labelling system as a reference to understand what defines each product category as water efficient and make informed choices. For example, the label above is for showers, you can see that showers with water use of 8 litres per minute or less are considered to be water efficient. With that information in hand, you can go and look at the specifications for any shower on the market, be it labelled or not, and if its water use is up to 8 litres per minute you know that it is water efficient. Alternatively, you can choose between the products already registered on the European Water Label online catalogue where you can filter products by location, rating, and manufacturer.
Unfortunately, this label does not cover washing machines and dishwashers, but information on water usage for these products can be found in the product specifications or as additional information on their energy label.
Below, we have listed the water efficiency standards you should be looking for, for each fixture or equipment type, to help you make the right choice:
Showers and Taps
Look for products that use less than 8 litres of water per minute. That is the maximum flow of water that will come out of your fixture when it is fully open. If you like a power shower it may prove difficult to achieve this but you could try to compensate by using very low flow taps and by spending less time in the shower.
Make sure you have a dual flush toilet, which allows you to use smaller water volume for flushing liquid waste and a bigger volume for solid waste. Look for products that use a maximum of 6 litres for high flush and 4 litres for low flush. If you decide for an extremely low flush toilet, make sure that there will be enough pressure so your plumbing system can still work correctly and avoid any blockages.
The maximum volume for an efficient bathtub is 170L at overflow level (this is not the top of the bathtub but the level of the overflow hole). Remember that when you enter your bathtub your body will displace a huge amount of water, 70L on average, this is clean water being wasted. So even with a water efficient bathtub make sure to fill it to a level below the overflow level according to how much water you think your body will displace.
When looking at dishwashers you will have to think both about energy efficiency and water efficiency which do not necessarily go hand in hand, so also pay attention to the energy label. In terms of water use an efficient dishwasher should be using between 6 to 10 litres per cycle, depending on the number of place settings. When choosing your dishwasher, you should divide the water volume per cycle by the number of place settings in order to compare different models and sizes. The dishwasher that uses the least amount of water per place setting will be the most efficient one.
Look for models that use less than 7.5 litres per kilogram. You can calculate this by dividing the washing machine’s total capacity by the water volume used in each cycle. This also allows you to compare the performance of washing machines of different sizes.
Choosing water efficient fixtures and equipment can save a considerable amount of water and help reduce your bills. This, when combined with the adoption of various water conservation measures in your home can really make a difference for you and our planet. Pay attention to the labels on water fixtures and equipment, reduce your water use and Green It Yourself… Now!