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To meter or not to meter: A question of water consumption

A kitchenThe suppliers of your water will calculate your bill in one of two ways – either measured or unmeasured. So either you’ll have a water meter, or you won’t. Approximately 70% of UK households are still on an unmetered supply.

Where water consumption is unmeasured, the amount you pay for water and sewerage is fixed. This will be based on the rateable value (RV) of your home. This value is standardised for houses built after 1990. Houses built prior to this will have been assigned a rateable value based on a variety of factors. The amount payable on a bill will be uniform across properties with the same RV – regardless of how much water is used.

You can find out the rateable value of your home by contacting your water supplier, or visiting their website. When you know this value, you should be able to approximately calculate whether the amount of water you use would be above or below average.

If you suspect that your water consumption is comparatively low, then it may well be worth installing a meter and paying your bills accordingly. Not in the least because installation is usually free!

To meter

You probably have a fairly good idea if your water consumption is above or below average. For example, if your property is empty in the day as everyone’s at work, or you don’t have a lawn or plants to water, then your consumption is likely to fall below average. If that’s the case, then ultimately a measured bill is likely to mean a happier bank balance.

In addition, if you find that your measured bill is actually higher, you can usually go back onto the unmeasured charge if you let your water supplier know within a year after having the meter installed. It’s an idea to check with your supplier first to be sure.

There are circumstances where there is no choice but to have a meter installed. The Water Industry (Prescribed Conditions) Regulations 1999 provide that households should have a meter if they have any of the following:

  • a power shower;
  • a large bath (greater than 230 litres);
  • an automated sprinkler system;
  • or a swimming pool or pond with over 10,000 litres of water.

Not to meter

If you’re a fairly heavy water user, then you’ll probably be better off with the unmeasured charge. So if you take lots of deep baths, like hosing down your car, have a large family or a massive garden to keep watered, then this is likely to be the best option for you.

A few tips to cut down water consumption

  • Take showers rather than baths.
  • Don’t leave the tap running when you clean your teeth. For rinsing, you could fill a tumbler of water first.
  • Get a hippo bag installed in your cistern in order to use less water. Water suppliers in several areas supply these for free on request, so check out your supplier’s website.
  • Fix any leaking taps that you may have.
  • Wash your car by filling up a bucket a few times, rather than hosing it down.
  • Your lawn won’t need to be watered more than once a week, even during the summer. It’s best to do it at the coolest part of the day, so less is lost to evaporation. And try not to use a sprinkler!
  • Keep some cool water in the fridge, so that you don’t have to keep the tap running until it gets cold.

photo by Untitled blue