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Esther Shaw

Can a water meter save you money?


If you're looking for ways to save money on your monthly outgoings, it might be time to consider a water meter. You can't switch your water supplier but could a water meter save you money?

water tap

Hard-pressed households who are already struggling to make ends meet could benefit from a water meter. 

Across England and Wales water bills will increase by an average of 1% in April 2016 – an increase of £2/year on a typical water bill.

In Scotland water is charged for differently - the combined service charge will rise 1.6% in April. For example, those in tax band A will pay £283/year while those in tax band D will pay £424/year.

The difference a water meter can make

One way that you may be able to save money is by installing a water meter.

A water meter works by recording the amount of water you use, so bills are based on your actual usage rather than the traditional flat charge based on the value of your property.

At present, around 40 per cent of homes have a water meter.

As a basic rule of thumb, you should be able to save money if there are more bedrooms than people in your household.

"Most customers still pay a fixed price for water," says Dame Yve Buckland from the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).

Water meter could save you £100 or more

"However, for some, such as smaller families and those who live alone, opting for a meter may produce significant savings, with bills being cut by £100 a year or more in some cases."

By contrast, families of four or more may be better off with a fixed bill because their water consumption is likely to be higher.

In most cases, meters are fitted free of charge, with an option to switch back within a year if you change your mind, or don't make the savings you were expecting.

To get a meter, you need to contact your water company to arrange a home assessment to determine whether a meter can be installed.

The Consumer Council for Water has a water meter bills calculator on its website.

Water bills causing debt problems

If you think you're using less water than you're paying for, it might be worth getting a water meter installed.

"Rising water bills are having a devastating effect on low-income households," says Dr Richard Wellings from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

"In some areas, poorer people are now spending more than 10 per cent of their income on water, leaving less money for other essentials, such as food and heating."

Check the help available

If you're having difficulties paying your bill, it's worth contacting your water supplier, as they may offer to help with special payment arrangements.

"Some now offer schemes which produce lower bills for consumers in difficult financial circumstances," says Buckland.

Certain customers who have a meter and three or more dependent children, and who receive income-related benefits, may be eligible for help under the Watersure scheme.

As well as installing a water meter, you can also help keep bills down by being efficient and avoiding wastage.

Water-efficiency tips

Simple tips include taking a shower rather than a bath, installing a water-saving shower head or shower timer, and fitting a dual-flush or "hippo" into the toilet, to save water each time you flush.

If you do take a bath, then share the water with others in the family, or reuse it to water plants.

Make sure you repair worn washers on leaky taps, and that you turn off the taps when brushing your teeth.

Also only use the washing machine or dishwasher when you have a full load.

In addition, you could also look at investing in a water butt that you can use to collect rain-water which you can then put to good use in the garden.

The Energy Saving Trust website has some top tips help you save on your water bills.


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