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What is WELS?

January 30, 2014
What is WELS?

If you hadn't already noticed, the 21st century has witnessed the ushering in of a more environmentally and socially conscious society, which is constantly seeking ways to lessen its negative impact on the environment.

Water conservation, is no exception.

From 2003 to 2012, many parts of Australia experienced one of the worst droughts on record and this has led to a series of water restrictions and price rises that have directly impacted consumers and changed the face of water using appliances forever.

This means when purchasing a water using appliance, there are a lot of things you need to take in consideration and the WELS Rating should definitely not be ignored.

If you've ever been in the market for a washing machine, dishwasher or any kind of water using appliance, you may have noticed that almost every item has a big sticker on it saying “Water Rating” with a bunch of stars and a number.

This also may have you wondering what on earth it all means. Will this save me water? Is this just a marketing technique? Or, how exactly should this effect my decision when purchasing my appliance? All relevant questions indeed!

Let us look further into what exactly a WELS rating is so you can understand why it is important.

What does WELS mean?

WELS stands for ‘Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme” and requires certain products to be registered and labelled with their water efficiency scale in accordance with the standard set under the national Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005. (, 2013)

To put it in the simplest terms, WELS is in place to help reduce your overall water use and save you money on water bills!

The system was introduced in 2005 with the primary goal of reducing water demand by 2012. Some of WELS’ goals include:

  • Reduce domestic water use by more than 100,000 megalitres each year;
  • Save more than 800,000 megalitres (more water than Sydney Harbour); and
  • Reduce total greenhouse gas output by 400,000 tonnes each year - equivalent to taking 90,000 cars off the road each year.

What does the WELS ranking apply to?

  • Dishwashers
  • Showers
  • Taps
  • Toilets
  • Washing Machines

What does the star ranking and number mean?

It’s very simple!

The more WELS Stars your product has, the less water you will consume and the more money you will save.

An average water consuming appliance will rank around 2.5 to 3 stars.

Any appliance ranking above this level will begin to have a sufficient impact on water savings.

Anything unranked or below these rankings may be water thirsty!

Reasons for choosing a WELS rated appliance?

A standard showerhead uses about 15 to 25 litres of water per minute - a three star rated water efficient showerhead uses as little as 6 or 7 litres per minute;

Typical taps discharge 15 to 18 litres per minute compared with low-flow and aerating models which use as little as 2 litres per minute depending on the intended application;

A single flush toilet costs around $760 over ten years to operate compared with a water-efficient dual flush cistern which costs around $250 over ten years to operate or a 67 per cent reduction; and

By 2016 WELS clothes washer could save about 25,600 megalitres of water per year-enough to fill 12,500 Olympic swimming pools every 12 months (this is a reduction of about 8.8 per cent in the water consumption of the clothes washers sold between 2003 and 2016).

As you can see, the differences between having a solidly ranked WELS rated appliance and a low or unranked appliance are significant both for you and your water saving conscience!

Who is responsible for reviewing WELS?

The WELS Rating is not set by the supplier or the manufacturer of the particular product, but rather is overseen by a government regulator.

This means that you can be sure that these rankings are legitimate and not a marketing campaign.

Heavy fines and penalties are imposed on those who are non-compliant or tamper with the aims of the WELS initiative.

If you have any questions in regards to the WELS Rating system, you can visit