Water bills across England and Wales are set to rise by an average of 1.7% in April 2022 – a total rise of £7 per year on the average bill. So, it’s more important than ever to know how to save on your water bill.
Everyone knows you can switch energy providers to save on costs, but many assume that because you can’t switch water suppliers, there is no way to save on your water bill.
All is not lost! Huge savings are still possible when it comes to your water bill – you just have to know how. In this guide, we’ll explain how switching to a water meter could save you hundreds of pounds each year.
While changing to a water meter won’t be the right answer for all households, it could be much cheaper for many. So, read on to find out whether you should get a water meter.
Having a water meter means you only pay for the water you use. So, that could either mean significant savings for your household, or bigger bills.
If you don’t have a water meter, it means you pay a fixed price for your water. It doesn’t matter how much water you use, your water bill won’t change. Instead, the bill is based on the ‘rateable value’ of your home – in other words, how fancy it is.
Let’s start with the benefits of getting a water meter:
Water meters are ideally suited to households where water usage is low. For instance, if you live alone or as a couple, this could be best for you.
But, it’s not always that simple. For example, you could have a small number of people in the home but a large garden that needs watering often. Likewise, you might be a relatively large family of 3 or 4 but you don’t have a garden at all. So, bear this in mind when deciding whether to get a water meter.
Many households often report that they become much more water conscious when they’re paying for the amount of water they’re actually using. This means they make more effort not to waste water, which is much better for the environment.
If you were really unlucky and got a leak on your property, a water meter would give you an early warning before too much damage is inflicted. A water meter would highlight excessive water usage in your bills and alert you to the problem.
If you have a water meter installed and don’t see any water bill savings, you can easily change your mind and switch back to rates. However, you can only do so within the first two years of water meter installation. After that, you’re stuck with it regardless of how your usage changes.
Moving onto the disadvantages of getting a water meter:
If you do use a lot of water, it doesn’t make any sense to switch to a water meter. Generally speaking, if you have more people than bedrooms and use a lot of water intensive appliances, then a fixed fee will likely be cheaper for you.
While water meters are great for warning you about leaks, having a water meter does mean you’ll have to pay for all the water that’s lost. By contrast, if you’re on a fixed rate, how much you pay won’t change regardless of leaks.
Fixed fees mean no surprises. Not having a water meter means your water bill will be the same every month, so there won’t be any unexpected surprises or seasonal fluctuations. You know upfront exactly how much you’ll be paying for the year so you can accurately budget.
If you have a water meter you only have 2 years from having it installed to change your mind and switch back to a fixed rate. But, you have as long as you want to change your mind when you’re on a fixed rate.
Although the UK water market is privatised, it’s not open to competition. That means you can’t switch between water providers, so you’re limited in what you can do to cut down on the cost.
Overall, how much your water costs, comes down to how you’re billed. The two options for being billed for your water are:
So, is it cheaper to have a water meter or to pay a fixed fee for your water?
To see if a water meter is right for you and your household, you first need to know if a meter is financially worthwhile. A good rule of thumb to stick to is:
If there are more bedrooms in your home than people, or the same number, you would probably benefit from getting a water meter.
How much you could save with a water meter varies hugely, but it could be in excess of £100s each year!
However, if you live in Scotland, it’s not free to have a water meter installed (it’s actually very costly), so you should stick to fixed payments. There are also no domestic water charges in Northern Ireland so no need to get a water meter.
So, whether it’s cheaper to have a water meter depends on your usage, but also on your water company.
Disaster! You asked for a water meter to be installed, but then your bills got bigger!
Don’t worry – you can switch back to unmetered billing. However, you must make sure you ask your water company within the first two years of having a water meter.
Your water company won’t take the meter away, but they will change your bills back to fixed payments.
However, you should beware that if you move into a house that already has a water meter, you’re stuck with it for good!
To get a water meter installed, you’ll need to head over to your provider’s website to see if you can apply for one. You’ll usually either need to fill in an application form or give them a call.
It’s free to get a water meter installed, and they can be fitted either inside or outside the home.
Once your meter has been installed, your water supplier should give you an information pack detailing your new charges and update your online account.
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