Water – those bills can be high! This is the first of two articles on the problem. It looks at the different ways you can reduce the amount you are charged for water in England and Wales. The next article is What to do if you can’t afford to pay a water bill.
Get a meter
60% of people don’t have a water meter. Many of them could save hundreds of pounds a year by getting one!
Without a meter, your water bill is base on the rateable value of your house, so the larger it is, the more you pay. But your water usage really depends on the number of people – the same couple in a one, two or three bed house will probably use the same amount of water.
An easy rule of thumb is that if the number of people in your house is the same or less than the number of bedrooms, you are likely to get lower bills from a water meter. There is a more detailed calculator here.
You can get a meter fitted even if you are a tenant, providing you don’t have a short tenancy of less than six months.
All water companies offer a free meter fitting service. To encourage you to switch, most companies say that if your meter gives you a higher bills in your first year, you can switch back to non metered-billing.
If a meter can’t be fitted
Sometimes the water company will say you can’t have a meter. For example the supply to a block of flats may be unsuitable for individual meters.
If a meter isn’t possible, ask what an “assessed charge” would be instead. This may be based on the number of people in your house – so if there are only two of you in a two bedroom house it’s probably going to be lower than the amount you currently pay. If the assessed charge you are quoted is more than your bills at the moment, you don’t have to switch to it.
Reduce your water usage
Once you have a water meter, anything you can do to reduce your water usage will cut your bill:
- there are some very easy steps, such as not leaving the water running when you are cleaning your teeth!
- see how many of these A-Z of water saving tips will work for your family;
- the water companies are trying to encourage water saving and many are giving away free water saving devices;
- if you can reduce the water used in showers, baths, cooking, kettles, washing machines and dishwashers, this will have the side benefit of cutting your gas or electricity bills as well.
Do you qualify for a lower charge?
You may be eligible for WaterSure if you are on certain benefits and either have medical conditions that mean you use more water or have three or more children living with you. There is a WaterSure chart to see if you qualify. WaterSure will cap your bills, so the extra water your household needs will be free.
There may be another social tariff that would cut your bills if you are on a low income, some benefits or pension credit. These vary by water company, so look up what your water company offers. Not many people know about these! They could help more than 400,000 households, but in summer 2016, less than a third of eligible customers have so far signed up to a social tariff.
To get WaterSure or one of these low social tariffs, you usually have to have a water meter. So here it can make sense to switch to a meter even if you know your house uses a lot of water!
Reduce the sewerage charge?
If water coming off your roof and driveway goes into a soak away on your property or a river or stream, it isn’t going into the sewerage system so you may be able to get a rebate. If you have a look at your water bill, this may be explained in the small print on the back, or contact your Water Company and ask.
Have you saved money on your water bills?
There are a lot of ways you may be able to reduce the cost of your water, from getting a meter and using less to getting charged at a lower rate.
Do you have any good water saving tips? Has switching to a meter, saved you money? Add a comment below!