By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: New South Wales Premier, Morris Iemma, has announced a $150 rebate scheme to encourage consumers to purchase more water efficient washing machines.

Commencing on 1 March, any consumer connected to a Sydney Water main who purchases a 5A or 4-star rated washing machine will be entitled to $150 rebate on the purchase price.

The rebate effectively covers consumers in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra region, and will be available for consumers who purchase eligible machines between 1 March 2006 and 28 February 2007.

Retailers will be provided with information and application forms to pass on to consumers, who must send away an application with the original receipt to receive their $150 rebate cheque.

Given that 5A and 4-star rated washers can use up to 26,000 litres less water each year than older machines, Sydney Water estimates that the rebate program could save up to one million litres of water per day.

“This rebate will encourage households to invest in a new washing machine – helping save water and secure our water supplies into the future,” said NSW Minister for Water Utilities, David Campbell. “It also means less water will be diverted into the waste water system.”

Similar schemes have been in place for some time in areas like Goulburn in New South Wales.

“Our local city council has had rebates for the last three years, where consumers get a $200 rebate for purchasing 4A and 5A rated washing machines, and it has gone tremendously well,” said Retravision Goulburn proprietor, Brain Wright.

“The rebate scheme basically dictates which washing machines we order,” Wright said.
Barry Campbell, proprietor of Burnie Betta Electrical in Tasmania, said it is becoming much easier to sell washing machines to people who are aware of water ratings.

“We don’t have any rebate scheme in Tasmania, although it would do very well. I understand it has been very successful in those states that have implemented it,” he said.

In August 2005, Retravision New South Wales chairman, Paul Murphy, wrote to the new Premier and outlined his proposal for a program that provides an incentive to consumers purchasing washing machines and dishwashers with a high level of water efficiency.

“Nationally direct subsidies exist for consumers if they purchase water efficient showerheads, dual flush toilets and water tanks. However, Western Australia is the only state to offer rebates directly to consumers purchasing water efficient washing machines,” Murphy said at the time.

In July this year, the Federal Government will implement the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme to assist consumers in purchasing more water-efficient household products. New labels on products including washing machines and dishwashers will rate water efficiency with a score out of six stars. WELS also provides incentive for manufacturers to improve the water efficiency of these products.