About 15-20 per cent of water used in the home is in the laundry. Washing machines also use large amounts of energy and detergents.
Hot water system
- Consider an instantaneous water heater if your existing water heater is located some distance to the bathroom. Talk to a plumber first to make sure it will work adequately with your showerhead.
- Make sure your hot water system thermostat is not set too high. Adding cold water to reduce the temperature of very hot water is wasteful
- Fit flow-controlled aerators to your taps – they are inexpensive and can reduce water flow by 50%.
- If you have a leaking tap, replace the washer or other components as required. Dripping taps can waste 30-200 litres of water per day.
- A running tap uses about 16 litres of water per minute and a dripping tap can waste up to 12,000 litres a year.
- Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth. Wet your brush and use a glass for rinsing.
- Don’t over-tighten taps. It can wear the washer and cause leaks.
- Ensure all new taps are water efficient by checking the WELS star rating.
- In basins and sinks, install separate hot and cold taps as mixer type taps are usually left in the middle position. This means that each time the tap is run for a glass of cold water or to rinse a toothbrush, hot water is drawn off and left to cool in the pipe without ever being used.
- Catch running water whilst waiting for your water to warm up – use it to water plants, rinse dishes, or wash fruit and vegetables.
Find out more on fixing leaks page.
- Always run your washing machine on a full load.
- Wash in cold water to save energy (it may not compromise the quality of the wash).
- Look for washing machines that have a four or more WELS star rating.
- Choose a water efficient front loading washing machine.
- Check the water efficiency performance of any product before buying.
- Adjust the water level to suit the size of the wash load – some new water efficient models will do this automatically.
- Wash with a full load and you will save 10 litres of water each wash
- Use the sud-saver option (if your machine has one) when you have several loads to wash.
- Pre-treat stains before loading into your machine.
By law, all washing machines must carry a label that shows the machine's water efficiency. The more stars, the less water the machine uses per wash. The label also provides water consumption in litres for each cold and warm wash. The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme has a rinse performance test built into the rating, so you know your clothes will come out clean.
To minimise your total running costs, you should select a model within your budget that is high in both water and energy efficiency.
Choosing a washing machine
If you're in the market for a new machine check out these helpful tips below to help you make the right choice.
Need to buy a new washing machine?
Check out our washing machine calculator to estimate your washing machine’s electricity, gas and water consumption cost per wash. You may be surprised to learn how much it costs when using an inefficient washing machine with a low energy star rating compared to a new, water efficient washing machine.
Front loader vs top loader
Front loading washing machines have an opening on the front of the machine, where clothes can be loaded and unloaded. All dials and buttons are typically located on the front.
Top loading washing machines open from the top of the machine, where clothes can be loaded and unloaded. The dials and buttons are typically found on top, along the back edge of the machine.
If you want to buy a top loader in preference to a front loader and want to save water, look for a model with at least 3 water efficiency stars and an adjustable water level. This will enable you to reduce the water used with smaller loads.
|Performance||Front loaders typically rank better than top loaders.|
|Washing||Front loaders are gentler on clothes. They have higher spin speeds resulting in less moisture in the clothes on completion. This shortens drying time and minimises use of a tumble dryer. In terms of dirt removal or rinse performance, neither type has an advantage, but front loaders offer more temperature and wash options.|
|Water and energy saving||Front loaders use up to 70% less water than top loaders and in some cases save up to 36,000 litres per year for a typical household. They also use less detergent and less energy if you wash with warm or hot water. This reduces greenhouse gases making front loaders more environmentally friendly than top loaders.|
|Loading clothes||Front loaders on the floor require bending to load and unload however these problems are reduced if front loaders are placed on pedestals or a purpose-built cabinet.|
|Space||Front loaders are very effective space savers. A dryer can easily be mounted on top of the machine without interfering with its operation.|
|Adding clothes mid cycle||Most front loaders cannot be opened once the cycle starts however some newer models are able to overcome this problem. Washing can be added to top loaders at any point in the cycle.|
|Time to wash||Front loaders generally take longer to complete a cycle than top loaders, sometimes up to 40 minutes more.|