Can waterwise = money smart?


Installing waterwise features and fixtures not only makes good environmental sense, it can improve your bottom line returns.
Waterwise gadgets like irrigation timers, dual-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads not only impress prospective tenants (and who wouldn’t want to stand out in the current rental market?), but they can save property wear, tear and waste.
If that’s not a strong enough argument, then a 2015 case from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal might sway you.
Ray White Investment Services claimed almost $500 in water consumption costs from a tenant after he vacated a property. But the claim was rejected after the tenant stated the property was not water efficient (under s166 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008) and the court agreed with the tenant when the agent could not prove otherwise.
“Being water-wise doesn’t necessarily mean spending lots of money,” says Executive General Manager RentCover Sharon Fox-Slater. “You can adjust existing fixtures in your home or simply keep an eye out for leaks and waste during inspections.
“Then there’s waterwise home appliances, such as washing machines, that you can claim rebates on. Items like low-flow shower heads are also available at low-cost and save on both water and power costs, which is important if you offer an all-inclusive rental.”
Here are some waterwise tips to try at your property:
  • Fix dripping taps and check for water leaks if you notice an unusual increase in consumption – noting a spike in consumption can be a sign of a bigger ‘problem’ (think burst pipes or even a drug lab!)
  • Lower your hot water system setting to save energy and improve in-home safety
  • Upgrade shower heads, toilet systems and tapwear with low-flow systems, which could offer lower wear and tear over the long run
  • Install a water saver cycle on any washing machines and dishwashers
  • Provide a bucket to collect excess water from the shower/sink/laundry
  • Set any reticulation timers for cooler parts of the day or at night – don’t rely on tenants or strata managers to do that
  • Run a pipe from any evaporative air conditioners to direct dripping water to the garden
  • As garden watering accounts for around 40 per cent of water used by households, consider replacing lawn with drought tolerant plants and groundcovers, which are also a smarter bet in most rentals
  • Add mulch and compost to soil with water-saving crystals. It takes a little time and money but it’s much cheaper than replacing plants or grass.
And, if you purchase new appliances, be “insurance wise” too and ensure your policy adequately covers your investments.