Figures from Ofwat show more than 40% of households currently have a meter. Here we look at whether or not you can save money by getting a meter installed.
Q. How are my water bills calculated?
A. If you don’t have a meter, you will normally be charged a fixed or flat amount each year – known as “unmetered” charges. The amount you are charged is not based on usage. Instead, it is usually based on where you live and the rateable value of your property. Your bill is usually made up of various charges including a standing charge for water, and a charge for collecting and treating your dirty water.
Q. What happens if I get a meter installed?
A. A water meter is similar to a gas or electricity meter, and getting one installed means you’ll be charged for the amount you actually use, rather than charged a fixed annual amount. Cutting back on the amount you use will therefore save you money, making this a much fairer way of billing customers.
Q. Can everyone save money by having a meter installed?
A. No. As a rule of thumb, a water meter could be more effective if there are more bedrooms than people in your household. This could be, for example, if you are two people living in a four-bed family home.
By contrast, for larger families, being on a water meter may not be cost-effective as your water consumption will probably be high. To find out more about whether you can potentially save money, make use of the CCW calculator.
Q. How much can I save with a meter?
A. Having a water meter installed can mean a saving of £50-100 a year. Some households could save more.
Q. What happens if I switch to a meter but don’t save money?
A. If you switch to a water meter and find you are not saving money, you can switch back to unmeasured charging within 12 months.
Q. Do I have to pay to get a meter installed?
A. No, if you’re in England or Wales, where installation is free (you might have to contribute in Scotland). In the first instance, you simply need to contact your water company to arrange a home assessment to determine whether a meter can be installed. If it can, you should have a meter installed within three months of you requesting one.
Tenants in rented accommodation can also ask for a meter – but it’s worth checking with your landlord first.
Q. What happens if a meter can’t be fitted at my home?
A. If the company find a meter can’t be fitted at your property, they must offer to switch you to an alternative assessed charge instead. This is an estimate of what your water bill might have been had a meter been installed.
Q. What if you are a Thames Water customer?
A. If you are a Thames Water customer, the same advice applies in regard to finding out if a meter can save you money. Once again, make use of the calculator – and if you’ve got any questions or concerns over the proposed hikes, contact Thames Water.
Q. What if I’m struggling to pay my water bill?
A. If you’re having difficulties affording your bill, contact your water company, as the supplier may offer to help with special payment arrangements, or, in some cases, reduced rates and assistance schemes.
It’s also worth noting that certain customers who have a meter and three or more dependent children and who receive income-related benefits may be eligible for assistance under the WaterSure scheme for vulnerable individuals. There’s more information here.
Q. How can I save money on my water bills once I’ve got a meter?
A. There are plenty of water-saving steps you can take to keep a lid on consumption:
take a shower rather than a bath – and also look into fitting a shower timer or an eco-shower head which uses less water than a normal shower.
fit a dual-flush or hippo into the toilet cistern to save water when flushing
turn the taps off when brushing your teeth
make sure there are no dripping taps in your home
only use the washing machine and dishwasher when there is a full load
collect rain-water in a water butt and then use this to wash your car or water your garden.