It’s time to stop making fun of NEWater.
We often take for granted the fact that Singapore is one of the only countries in all of Southeast Asia where tap water can be drunk safely.
Perhaps that’s why we often waste water without a second thought.
A 2016-2017 survey conducted by the PUB found that showering was the biggest water guzzler in the 400 households polled, while toilet flushing came next. Not surprising, as Singapore’s hot and humid climate means that many people take two or even three showers a day.
But all that water consumption costs a pretty penny. Water prices are set to increase by 30% by July 2018. This means that the average HDB household, who spends between $26 to $49 a month on water, will soon be paying $2 to $8 more.
What is the WELS Rating?
Not all taps, showerheads, toilets and washing machines use water at the same rate.
The Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) pushes suppliers to rate all products according to how water-efficient they are.
This is mandatory for certain products such as taps and dual flush cisterns and voluntary for others.
What’s more, the government is trying to phase out taps and mixers with a water-unfriendly rating of zero ticks.
That means that when you’re outfitting your bathroom and kitchen, you should pay attention not just to the price of an appliance or fitting, but also its WELS rating, as a better WELS rating can save you money over time.
How do the prices of WELS-rated products compare to regular ones?
Pricing of products can be arbitrary and depends largely on the brand and model. As such, we can’t say conclusively if products with a better WELS-rating are more expensive than those with zero ticks.
However, as a general rule, the most water-efficient products also tend to be on the expensive side, although there is no hard and fast rule. On the other hand, they’ll help you save money over time, and so are still worth a look.
A showerhead with the highest rating of 3 ticks can offer water savings of about 44%, while a flushing cistern with a maximum of 3 ticks can save you about 18%. A washing machine with the highest rating of 4 ticks can save you about 43%.
Generally, the truly bargain basement products for which it is not mandatory to produce a WELS rating tend to remain unrated.
But be wary, as these products may not last as long and may also be hugely water inefficient.
How much can you save on your water bills?
According to the PUB, Singapore’s per capita water consumption was an average of 148 litres per day in 2016. For a family of four, that’s a whopping 592 litres a day.
If you were to outfit your home with water-saving devices and cut your water consumption by, say, 25%, a 4-person household could save about 148 litres a day.
From 1 July 2018, potable water will cost $2.51 per cubic metre (or 1,000 litres), including water conservation tax. That means that in one year, that same household would save a grand total of 54,020 litres, or $135.59.
To be fair that isn’t a massive amount when you consider that you might have to pay more for the appliances that enabled you to save that water in the first place.
But bear in mind most of these appliances are supposed to last you a very long time, and water tariffs are probably going to be raised again at some point in the future.
And don’t forget that if the appliances with the maximum number of ticks are out of your budget, you can still try to go for those with at least two ticks.
Do you use water-efficient appliances and fittings in your household? Tell us in the comments!