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Water bills are set to rise again? What can I do?


By PA News

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Consumers are facing yet more increases to their water bills, at an average of £19 a year, or £95 in total over the next five years.

What can households do to make sure they are not wasting water, and paying as little as possible?

– Should I switch to a water meter?

Households are not able to switch between water suppliers, so billing comes down to whether or not you are on a water meter.

In England and Wales, household bills are either estimated, meaning you pay a fixed amount based on the size of your home, its rateable value and the number of inhabitants; or via a water meter, so you pay for what you use.

Since 1990, all new homes have been fitted with water meters and you can get one for free on request.

In some areas, the water company is introducing universal water metering, so everyone will be given a meter.

– How much can you save?

It varies depending on your household’s usage, but also your water company. Remember, you can always try it to see if it saves you money. Most have up to two years to change back free of charge – so if it does not work out, ditch it.

– When is it a good idea to consider changing to a water meter?

Changing to a water meter may benefit you if you do not use much water, or if your property has a high rateable value.

A good rule of thumb is that you could pay less if there are fewer people in your property than there are bedrooms.

Proposed change in average water bill by 2029/30. See story CITY Water. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact graphics@pamediagroup.com.
Proposed change in average water bill by 2029/30. See story CITY Water. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact graphics@pamediagroup.com.

If you change to a water meter, the company will come to read your meter. You will not know exactly what you are going to be charged in every bill because the amount of water you use could increase if extra people come to live with you or if you buy any new water-using appliances.

Many water companies have water usage calculators on their website, to help you work out how much you are likely to pay if you have a meter.

Check how much you could save using the water meter calculator on the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) website. https://www.ccw.org.uk/save-money-and-water/water-meter-calculator/

– I’m a tenant. What should I do?

If you are a tenant, you can still ask for a meter.

If you have a fixed-term tenancy agreement of less than six months, you must ask the landlord’s permission. If your fixed-term tenancy agreement is longer than six months, you do not need your landlord’s permission to have a meter but your tenancy agreement may require you to ask their permission for alterations to the property.

You may need advice if your landlord does not agree to you having a meter, as any disagreements could cause problems when renewing the tenancy.

– I already have a meter. What else can I do to save water?

Reduce your use to save water, energy and money. Much of the water we use in the home comes from the hot tap. That means if you have a water meter you can double up on water and energy savings too. If every person in a family of four reduced their daily shower time by two minutes they could save around £280 a year (water and energy combined), according to CCW.

Reducing the length of a shower from eight minutes to five can save hundreds of pounds per year (Alamy/PA)
Reducing the length of a shower from eight minutes to five can save hundreds of pounds per year (Alamy/PA)

A report for Kingfisher by the Centre for Economics and Business Research suggests that by using water more efficiently, metered households may be able to completely offset the proposed average increase in bills to 2030.

– Top potential ways to save money include:

Moving from a traditional flush to a dual-flush toilet. Toilets alone make up around 22% of a typical home’s water usage;

Moving from a higher flow to a low-flow showerhead (with added energy bill savings, due to reduced hot water usage);

Reducing showers from eight minutes to five;

Not leaving the tap running while brushing teeth;

Fixing a leaking toilet, which can waste a staggering 200 to 400 litres each day.

– Am I entitled to financial help?

All water companies offer cheaper tariffs to low-income customers. The service customers receive while on these tariffs remains the same.

Eligibility and the level of support varies from company to company but the average annual saving in 2022-23 was around £151.

CCW has a guide to social tariffs on its Help with Bills online hub.

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