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09 March 23

How the labelling of white goods can encourage water saving on household equipment and save you money

The head of the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances in the UK, AMDEA, has told Affinity Water that the introduction of more widespread labelling of water use on white goods in the home could lead to significant savings on household bills.

Under new government plans, in addition to dishwashers and washing machine which already have to display information on water consumption per cycle, other appliance could have to carry mandatory water efficiency labels in the future.

In an exclusive podcast Paul Hide, CEO of AMDEA, says some white goods already have a label that sets out the energy and water use of the appliance but that the government is considering extending the scheme to cover a wider range of appliances and make more information at the point of purchase compulsory.

AMDEA fully supports these moves, which could come into force within the next two years, but says there should be one label covering both electricity and water on an appliance not two separate labels for each as has been suggested.

Listen to the podcast

Mr Hide said the review closed in November of last year but we have yet to hear what will happen next. He said AMDEA supported the change: “The appliances that use the most water in your home already have to display that information so it’s there when you buy an appliance on the energy label. We support one label to cover both not two labels, we don’t think the same information should be displayed twice. Where there are gaps we support labelling and are focused on sustainability and back moves that help consumers to make more informed decisions”.

Mr Hide said that making labels simple was key: “It is important that if you are imparting information it is in a very easy to understand format. If you go into too much detail, we all tend to ignore it. If you look at the energy labelling the thing that has made it simple is that it is based on an A to F rating. It is very easy to understand that an A is better. Once you get into the actual litres per hour or litres per cycle it is a little bit trickier to make a meaningful comparison. An A to F rating would help us understand which was the best”.

He explained that even though the eco settings on appliances result in a longer cycle time they are more energy and water efficient and that using a dishwasher uses far less water than doing your washing up in the sink.

“By taking a longer time your appliance uses much less water and energy to do it, the appliance is designed to operate that way. If I drive from London to Birmingham at 80 miles an hour and I drive at 40 mph, I get there a lot quicker if I drive at 80 mph but I think most people would recognise that I would burn a lot more fuel. It is the same comparison with an appliance, doing something fast is not the same as doing it efficiently.”

AMDEA have launched a household information campaign “Know Watts What”, which has lots of tips on how to use your appliances efficiently and what to look for when buying a new appliance. 

Mr Hide reminded listeners: “It’s much more efficient to use an electric shower rather than turn on a whole hot water system particularly in the summer, so how you use your appliances in your home can have a big impact on your environmental footprint and your energy and water bills.”

He continued saying sustainability was the driver for reform: “Helping people move their homes towards a net zero or reduced environmental impact is important. As an industry we are looking at the whole impact of energy and water use on the environment, from the sourcing of raw materials to the end-of-life recycling. Lots of manufacturing plants now use closed water loop systems so they are not extracting additional water from the environment to make those appliances. But actually up to 80 per cent of an appliances energy and water consumption is in the usage phase, once it is in the home. How much water it uses every cycle and how we use the appliance is in the settings we use, and over its life it is going to have the biggest environmental impact”.

He said the Association supported planning Water Neutrality into new housing developments and he praised Affinity Water’s own SOS campaign which educates and encourages behavioural change and water saving in the home: “Behavioural change and education of consumers is so important”.

For the future he said improving the information on Smart Meters would help consumers know more about individual water use on their appliances: “If we had a way of measuring water use for appliances on the smart meters, so some way of making it as easy to measure water consumption by appliance or function as opposed to electricity that we now have, this might nudge consumers behaviour in the right way”.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that some 1,200 million litres of water a day (the equivalent of 480 Olympic size swimming pools) could be saved by the efficiency labels and based on 2019 prices that it could also save consumers £125 million on water bills over ten years. And that could also save £147 million on energy bills.

More information about water labelling:

  • The plan, which has been subject to a 12-week consultation, proposes to introduce a separate water label from the existing energy label. They would be displayed on toilets, urinals, kitchen taps, bathroom basin taps, non-electric showers and shower assembly kits, dishwashers, washing machines and washer-dryers.
  • The labels plan is part of the National Framework for Water Resources, which will also ask water companies to do more to fix leaks.
  • In 2023/2024, Affinity Water is set to invest around £150 million to keep customers taps flowing with high-quality drinking water they can rely on. It will be investing in innovative technology to drive down leakage, with an aim to have reduced leakage by 20% by 2025.
  • Hot water use is the second-largest use of energy in a home after space heating.
  • Installing a water-efficient showerhead could save an average household 3,762 litres of water and £17.44 off their combined utility bills per year, according to Defra’s figures.
  • A family of four could save 6,468 litres and about £30 off their combined energy and water bill each year.
  • In 2021 alone, energy efficiency labelling and minimum performance standards led to energy bill savings of £75 for the average dual-fuel household.
  • The proposals have been welcomed by the Industry regulator OFWAT and by the Industry body WaterUK.
  • The National Framework for Water Resources aims to reduce personal water consumption to 110 litres per person per day by 2050, compared with the current average of 145 litres.

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