Water-efficient washing machines get a big tick

Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Mar 14;

Consumers here are buying more of the most water-efficient washing machines.

The more "ticks" a machine has, the more efficient it is. A three-tick washer uses less water per kilo of laundry than one with two ticks, and so on.

From October 2012 to September 2013, consumers here bought 79,309 three-tick washing machines, up from 55,174 the year before - a rise of nearly 44 per cent, according to figures from national water agency PUB.

The market share of three-tick washing machines sold here went from 37 to 54 per cent in that time period. Products must be certified by accredited testing firms.

Currently, six in 10 of the washing machine models available in the market are three-tick ones.

Ms Elsa Khoo, 28, who lives with her husband in a four-room HDB flat at Punggol Walk, said: "We purchased a three-tick washing machine when we moved into our new flat last year. It helps us to save water and money."

Ms Khoo, a teacher, said she makes sure to wash full loads of clothing to conserve energy, and also saves the rinse water to flush the toilet with.

Laundry is the third most water-intensive activity in households here, soaking up 19 per cent of the average household's water use. Showers and washing in the kitchen sink make up 29 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, the least water-efficient washing machines on the market will be phased out from April 1. Only washers with one or more ticks can be sold.

On average, a zero-tick machine uses 25 litres of water per kg and a three-tick machine uses just nine.

So for a 7kg load, a three-tick machine will use 112 litres less water than a zero-tick one.

From 2015, the PUB aims to phase out one-tick washing machines as well. Singapore's per capita domestic water consumption is 151 litres a day, and the PUB wants to shrink this footprint to 147 litres by 2020 and 140 litres by 2030.

Household appliances here have carried water and energy efficiency labels for several years to provide clear information for consumers, and minimum performance standards are being gradually tightened in both areas.

Since 2009, taps, mixers, some cisterns and urinals have had to carry water efficiency labels, and washing machines have been required to do so since 2011.

Air-conditioners and fridges have had energy efficiency labels, which go up to four ticks, since 2008. Minimum energy performance standards were introduced in 2011 for air-conditioners and fridges.