Eco-friendly, sustainable home designs are the way of the future, both from a legal perspective and as a means of protecting our planet. While people often focus on electricity, insulation, heating, cooling and renewable energy as ways to reduce their carbon footprint, it’s important to consider ways to cut down on your water usage. The best way to achieve this is through a mixture of smart house design choices and good daily habits. Let’s take a look at the best ways to build a water-efficient home, and how water-efficient products will reduce your environmental impact and cut down your living costs.
What makes a home water efficient?
Taking measures to save water and reduce wastage is the key to making your home more water-efficient. Like a lot of things, there are degrees to which you can be water efficient, but every These steps include:
- Buying energy-efficient appliances.
- Practising good water habits (turning off taps, taking shorter showers, etc).
- Following council recommendations regarding water usage.
- Making designs for your home will help conserve water and reduce water usage.
- Installing a water tank to make the most rainwater
Why is water efficiency important?
In many parts of Australia, droughts are a real concern and water restrictions can be implemented for weeks, even months at a time. Water-efficient appliances and features allow you to get the most from your water while minimising waste. There’s also the benefit of reducing the price of your water bills by hundreds of dollars. We’re sure you can think of better ways to spend that extra cash.
Minimum water efficiency standards
If you’ve ever seen Energy Star ratings on electrical appliances, then a water efficiency rating works in a similar way. Any device you’re looking at will be ranked from 1 to 6, with 1 being the least efficient and 6 being the most.
Below is an example of what the stickers will look like on appliances. When you visit your local white goods store, you’ll see these everywhere.
What are the environmental benefits of water-efficient homes?
Water is an essential commodity that a lot of us are lucky enough to take for granted. However, with droughts being an issue, good water-saving habits are an important part of living in Australia. Less water use also minimises the impact on our local rivers, lakes and other natural bodies of water.
How can you design a water-efficient home?
There are plenty of steps you can take to make your home more water-efficient, from architectural choices to appliances you purchase.
Architectural & design considerations
Your architect, designer or builder can help you make design choices that will help you cut down on water usage. This includes:
- Installing water-efficient fixtures and features
- Designing low-maintenance landscaping and irrigation
- Consider a green roof.
- Install a water tank.
Water-efficient appliances & fixtures
Everyday appliances and fixtures – such as washing machines, dishwashers, taps, flow controllers and shower heads – have come a long way when it comes to water efficiency. If you’re building a house, installing water-efficient showerheads with a lower water flow, toilets with a low flush volume (and a half flush button or dual flush), and efficient dishwashers and washing machines will both lower water consumption and cut energy bills. For example, an inefficient showerhead can use as much as 25L per minute, whereas a WELS 5-star shower can cut this down to as little as 3L per minute. Quite the difference.
The best news about purchasing water-efficient appliances and fixtures is you’ll end up saving tons of water without even needing to change your habits. This is not to discourage monitoring your habits, as mindful use of water will further decrease your overall water bills.
Hot water is an essential part of any modern home and your choice of heater can have a big influence on your energy bills. Though it may seem pretty straightforward – they all heat water after all – each type of hot water heater has its own pros and cons. For example, the cheapest models are usually the most expensive to run, so ironically, they’ll actually be the most expensive hot water systems in the long run. We’ve actually written an entire article on hot water heaters, so if you wish to find out more, click the link below.
Click here to read our guide to the range of water heaters on the market.
Using rainwater is one of the best ways to cut down on your water bills and reduce your carbon footprint. Rain is going to come down whether you have a tank or not, so why not make the most of it?
The idea of a perfect, manicured lawn is the stereotypical dream of owning a house, however, there are plenty of options that can look just as stylish without the headaches that come with it. Consider options that feature more pathways, or even fake grass to minimise both water usage and time spent on upkeep. Plants that require little water and are native to your area will also require less maintenance.
Rainwater tanks are another way to minimise your water wastage. Even if you only use the tank water for your gardening needs, you’ll save litres of water every year.
Smart home technology that can monitor and manage water usage
Smart devices have gone from seeming like something Bill Gates would have to become a part of our everyday lives. One of the best things about smart technology is it allows you to monitor appliances in your home whether you’re there or not. Some examples of smart home technology that can monitor your water usage include:
- Smart Home Water Meters: This allows you to monitor your water usage in real-time.
- Property Protection: Various technologies that will detect leaks and can even shut down faltering appliances.
- Smart Hose Timers: Timers on hoses and irrigation help greatly reduce water use when maintaining your lawn.
- Smart Shower head: Helps reduce water flow, and temperature and can even include voice activation.
- Smart faucets: Replacing traditional faucets, these fixtures have sensory technology and will help prevent taps from being left on. Can also control water flow.
Maintenance, upkeep and good habits
Leaking taps can waste litres of water, flushing both water and money down the drain. This applies to any leaking appliance or fixture, including shower heads, toilets, washing machines
- Shorter shower times (a shower timer can help with this).
- Avoid leaving water running unnecessarily (for example, you don’t need the tap on the entire time you brush your teeth). A running tap uses around 16L a minute, so in the teeth cleaning scenario, this could save a lot of water if everyone simply turns off the tap when they brush.
- Noticing dripping taps and fixing them ASAP.
- Only use your dishwasher or washing machines when full.
- Washing dishes with a dishwasher can actually be more efficient than washing by hand.
- Use eco settings on your machines when possible
Are there any government incentives and rebates for water-efficient homes?
Rebates and incentives are always worth looking into as they can save you hundreds, if not thousands, dollars. In Queensland, from the 4 September 2023, eligible households can receive a rebate if they purchase either a solar panel or heat pump hot water system.
Our practical tips for new home builders
- As you’re building from scratch anyway, you might as well take this opportunity to incorporate water conservation into your design. Installing water-efficient fixtures throughout your house will cost more at first, but saves money in the long run.
- Consider your current living situation and how much water you use. If you’ve never done this before, you may be surprised how many simple steps you can take to reduce your water usage.
- A dishwasher is actually a more efficient way to clean a large amount of dishes. Water savings and you get out of doing the dishes? Sounds like a win-win to us.
- Talk to a licensed plumber about how you could improve your water use.
- Check with your local council about any region-specific water restrictions or
- Find a handy person and an emergency plumber in your area and have their numbers saved into your phone or easily accessible.