by Vivian Garzon

‌Visual Guide: WELS and Water Ratings in Australia Explained

‌Visual Guide: WELS and Water Ratings in Australia Explained

WELS - Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards – is a government initiative brought into effect in 2005. The scheme applied a mandatory, Australia-wide water efficiency and minimum performance standard to all Australian household water-consuming products (dishwashers, showers, tapware, showerheads and so on).

But why’s it important and why should you care?

The WELS Scheme is supposed to save Australians over $1 billion a year on utility bills, which is on average a savings of $175 per household, each year.

Of course, at Buildmat, we’re heavily into the taps and sinks business, so how does the WELS Scheme work on taps?

How Much You Can Save with Quality Taps

Low-flow taps are an excellent way to save on water bills, without compromising on feel.

A common misconception with low-flow taps is it feels like there’s less water coming out and you don’t get a full-flow effect, but that’s actually not true. Low-flow taps work by mixing air into the water flow. This gives the feel and impression of full water flow even though the water volume is greatly reduced.

Installing low-flow taps or aerators to reduce tap-water use from a standard 15-18L/min down to as little as 2L/min!

Here’s a cost breakdown:

  • A 3-star tap that flows at 9L/min will save 11kL and $33 per tap each year on water bills
  • A 6-star tap that flows at 4L/min will save 20kL and $60 per tap each year on water bills

You can also save extra when it comes to hot water depending on your energy costs and your type of hot water system. Some homes may save the equivalent amount (or more) each year on energy bills because less water will need to be heated.

How Does the WELS Scheme Work?

The WELS Scheme basically encourages local manufacturers to design water-efficient products and provide a nationwide consistent water efficiency information to consumers.

Under the WELS scheme, any product that consumes water needs to be examined and tested by a government regulator to determine its efficiency and is then rated out of 6 stars. Similar to Energy Star ratings – with 6 stars being the most water efficient, and 1 being the least efficient.

Products Under the WELS Scheme

Here’s a full list of products you’ll find under the WELS Scheme:

  • Showers
  • Tapware
  • Flow controllers
  • Washing machines
  • Dishwashers
  • Toilets and urinals

Understanding the WELS Label

The WELS Water Rating label falls under three main sections: the star rating, rate of water consumption, and registration and product details.

With these details, you should be able to determine which product will give you the best water and energy savings to suit your household’s needs.

1. Star rating lets you quickly compare the water efficiency of products.

‌Visual Guide: WELS and Water Ratings in Australia Explained

2. Rate of water consumption such as flow rate, litres per flush or litres per wash lets you estimate how much water the product will use. Details of consumption rate displayed on the label vary by product type:

  • dishwashers — litres per wash, load capacity of the machine
  • flow controllers — litres per minute
  • showers — litres per minute
  • taps — litres per minute
  • toilets — litres per average flush, litres per full flush, and litres per half flush
  • urinals — litres per flush, per stall
  • washing machines — litres per wash, load capacity of the machine.
‌Visual Guide: WELS and Water Ratings in Australia Explained

An example of what the rate of water consumption looks like for a dishwasher 

3. Registration and product details including licence number and registration number and, for washing machines and dishwashers, the model name and cycle used for testing.

‌Visual Guide: WELS and Water Ratings in Australia Explained

An example of what flow controlled, taps, toilets, and showers rego product details look like

Cost of Highly Rated WELS Products

The more research you do, you’ll probably have already figured out the higher the WELS rating, the more expensive the product is. However, while highly rated products appear costly at first, you will pretty much recoup all the costs in your utility bill savings.

WELS Water Rating FAQs

What are the different WELS Water Ratings?

The WELS Water Ratings range from 1/6 Stars (being the least water efficient) to 6/6 Stars (the most water efficient).

Does a high WELS Rating mean higher flow? Or lower flow?

The higher the WELS Rating, the lower the flow. For example, installing low-flow taps or aerators to reduce tap-water use from a standard 15-18L/min down to as little as 2L/min!

Can I still buy lower WELS Rating / higher flow items if I don’t care about the system? 

Of course, you can buy water products that suit your home, budget and lifestyle. However, purchasing higher WELS Rating products is better for your wallet and for the environment.

What is the standard WELS Rating for new homes?

​​Builders, developers, real estate agents, plumbers and other trade professionals have important obligations under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme.

If you are involved in supplying or installing regulated products in a new building or renovation, you must meet the same requirements as retailers selling products to consumers.

Plumbing products regulated under the WELS scheme must also have a valid WaterMark certification​ before you can include them in property development or renovation. This includes:

  • Showers
  • Taps
  • Flow controllers
  • Toilets
  • Urinals. 

WaterMark is a mandatory certification scheme for plumbing and drainage materials and products that ensures they are fit for purpose and authorised for installation. 

What’s the standard for a WELS Rated product?

Anything rated a 4 WELS Water Rating or higher is considered best practice and will not only help to preserve water but will also result in great cost savings.

Shop Buildmat’s Highly Rated WELS Products Today!

Buildmat supplies a range of premium, highly rated WELS products for your kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Good for your wallet, good for the environment and great for your home. Shop now!



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