• by Karma Loveday

EST publishes deeper dive report on mandatory water labelling

A second, more detailed, report from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) on water labelling has echoed the conclusions of the first: that a mandatory water label linked to building regulations and minimum standards should be introduced.

In 2018, the EST produced an Independent review of the costs and benefits of water labelling options in the UK, commissioned by Waterwise and supported by the water industry’s Collaborative Fund and by DEFRA. The report recommended introducing a mandatory water label linked to building regulations and minimum standards.

A second report was commissioned to consider that recommendation in more detail. EST said: “Further research has provided new evidence and revised assumptions on a number of the variables included in the previous cost:benefit analysis, but the overall conclusions remain unchanged. There is a clearly positive cost:benefit ratio from introducing a mandatory water label linked to building regulations and minimum standards, roughly of the order of 1:60 almost independent of level of ambition.” The most ambitious scenario modelled achieves projected savings of over 30 litres per person per day in 25 years, while the most ambitious using currently commercially established technology saves 27 litres per person per day.

EST found the most straightforward legislative route would be to include minimum standards for sale of products in the new water labelling legislation, and to amend building regulations to reference specific label rating levels as required standards. Across all scenarios the additional cost to new-build properties would be recovered by the householder, through reduced water and energy bills, on average after 70 weeks initially with this figure reducing over time.

There was additional work on water wastage from dual flush toilets. EST found this could be reduced through clarification of the current requirement for self-evident controls, an education campaign to inform the public on correct usage, modification to fittings regulations to reduce failure rates and increased efforts by water companies to repair leaking toilets promptly.

EST concluded: “Labelling, minimum standards and better regulation and management of dual-flush toilets can achieve substantial water savings, but will require significant additional educational campaigns to maximise the potential savings through wider acceptance, better understanding of technologies and the adoption of water-efficient behaviours.”