Water efficiency is a hot topic in Australia given that most of Australia is a desert and the rest of Australia ran out of water 10 years ago. Our cities are now manufacturing water from seawater and sewerage. Our food industry is cut back dramatically to the point where Australia can no longer feed Australia. Our efficiency of water use is more important that our efficiency at energy usage.
The Australian media continues to harp on about energy and climate change but not one have they mentioned our massive use of energy to manufacture water. Sydney has a water factory running continuously at low levels all year round and ramping up to higher levels during the hotter parts of the year. One estimate said the factory will use, at full capacity, energy equivalent to putting 250000 cars on the road.
Sydney is just one of several cities with water factories already running and there are many more planned or under construction. Our current population is 2 million people more than we have water for. With our current efficiency of use, manufacturing of water for 3 people is equivalent to putting an extra car on the road. Australia imports 300000 more people every year and that amounts to putting 100000 cars on the road just based on the calculation of the energy needed to manufacture water. Those 300000 people will also buy and put on the road 100000 cars plus they will add that much more over summer because of all the new airconditioning.
So what does Australia do to reduce water usage?
One thing they do is to label household appliances with a water efficiency. Washing machines have a water efficiency rating system. Does it work?
Years ago Australia designed and manufactured washing machines. They lasted, on average, 15 years when washing for a family of 4. Foreign companies purchased the Australian manufacturers then shut down the Australian factories and forced us to by junk from Europe and Korea. Based on my experience and reports from lots of other people, the imported junk lasts from 7 years down to just 1 year when washing for a family of only 2 people. There are the occasional better lasting models but not many. There is now a massive energy wastage from the constant replacement of washing machines. The manufacturers claim energy efficiency improvements but none of them cover the energy burned during manufacture.
plus there is the massive energy wastage because they are designed for foreign countries. they are designed for countries that are cold. My current Electrolux crud will not let me wash in cold water. There was a cold water program advertised but it is not for washing clothes. I should have returned it as being unfit for use in Australia. The previous foreign junk did have a cold water option for clothing and did have dual water connections so you can use an alternative hot water supply if you have solar hot water but there was no warning that the machine, on the most common hot water setting, would ignore the environmentally sound hot water and heat the water using environmentally unsustainable mains electricity. Australians are stuck with this rubbish because there are no longer any alternatives.
Back to water efficiency. Both my modern font loading washing machines with, high water efficiency ratings, are hopeless at cleaning clothes compared to the old front loader they replaced. I used to have an Australian front loader that cleaned clothes using cold water, cleaned the full load of clothes advertised for that size machine, and rinsed the detergent out of the clothing including out of cotton. After many years of use, including many years of washing for a large household, the machine broke.
I had to purchase a replacement manufactured overseas. I purchased on that the sales person claimed was designed for use in Australia. The machine also had one of the highest water efficiency ratings of the machines available at that time. The machine would only rinse detergent out of plastic clothes and did not rinse the detergent out of cotton. I had to switch on the extra rinse option that made the machine use several buckets of water more than the old fashioned "low efficiency" front loader it replaced. I know the exact amounts because I experimented with storing the used water for use on plants. The old machine did not fill the tank. The new machine filled the tank by the second last rinse then wasted the last rinse down the drain. The new machine might perform well in the artificial water usage test run by the government but it did not perform well when you actually tested the cleanliness of the clothes.
modern Electrolux front loader has the same stated capacity but just does not fit as much clothing in one load. I have to wash 5 loads on Saturday instead of 3. Plus I I frequently have to put clothes through for a second wash, resulting in many weekends where I wash 6 times instead of 3. The Electrolux does not have a cold water wash for normal clothes. I am hit by a triple energy tsunami. There is all the extra energy wasted manufacturing water because I have to wash twice as often. There is all the extra electrical energy wasted because the machine heats water that does not have to be heated. Then there is the stupidity of the Electrolux water heating doubled because it requires twice as many washes.
If anyone ever decides to design or manufacture a washing machine for use in Australia, please make hot water optional for all wash cycles. Please have a separate connection for hot water so we can use all our free solar hot water when we want to. Please let the hot water cycle have an option to only use the hot water from the hot supply and never heat the water even if it is a few degrees below the target temperature. Plus please set the rinse cycle to rinse detergent out of cotton. Not everyone lives their whole lives wearing only polyester.