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Story / Water & Wastewater 20 Jan 2017

Top tips for waterwise apartment living

About two million Australian households now rent their home, a figure that has almost doubled in the past 30 years.

As a result, many people are not aware of their water consumption or the cost of their water bills as they are not received by the tenant and are paid for by the landlord.

“If you haven’t fixed your leaks or installed water saving appliances in your apartment, you may literally be pouring money down the drain”, said Andre Boerema of Sydney Water.

“Over 85 per cent of all water used in an apartment building is used within individual apartments, not in common facilities, with the biggest two users being showers 39% and toilets 10%.

“What is surprising is that average water consumption undertaken in our study showed that 10% of water used was attributed to leaks in apartment plumbing.

“There is significant potential to reduce apartment buildings’ water use, which creates reduced water bills for strata owners and may mean reduced rents for tenants”, said Mr Boerema.

Three tips to save water:

  • Showers – Install water-efficient showerheads or flow controllers sourced from local hardware stores. Shorter showers always help.

  • Taps – Fit tap aerators and flow controllers to your existing taps to reduce water use by more than half. If you are in the market for new taps, choose new 3-star models, including lever, mixer and quarter-turn styles. They use about half the amount of water as a standard tap.

  • Leaks – Fixing leaks is a simple way to slash water consumption, particularly in older buildings. One leaking toilet can waste up to 250,000 litres per month.

By following these simple tips you could generate average water savings per apartment of around $146 a year. One apartment block in Strathfield saved over $10,000 in a year by improving their water consumption.

Additional energy savings can also be achieved by reducing the amount of water which needs to be pumped to apartments on higher floors.

Every dollar saved on hot water wastage saves around a further three times this amount in energy costs and also reduces carbon emissions in producing the energy.

Sydney Water provides some customised packages for residential strata buildings for its Waterfix program to create cost-efficient water solutions.

Email contact and strata details to or call 1800 807 475. 

In September 2014, Sydney Water made a requirement that all new multi-level buildings must have individual water meters for each unit instead of one meter for the whole building.

Mirko Sramek, Customer Meter Manager at Sydney Water said “over the past 12 months just over 2,500 individual water meters have been installed in high rise apartment buildings, meaning 2,500 customers will now have a fairer water bill based on their own water use, not on the average consumption of all residents in the building.

“Individual metering of units provides an incentive for customers to be more water efficient and potentially reduce their bills for water use.

“Meters are fitted with wireless transmitters to enable Sydney Water to obtain the meter readings without entering the building and we are looking into ways to share meter data with owners, strata bodies and building systems to help them improve their water efficiency”, said Mr Sramek.