Water bills are dropping through letterboxes — and many will be a shock. Average bills in London top £300 and are set to rise even more next year: the regulator OfWat is allowing firms to put up charges by 5.7 per cent next month, meaning an average bill of £376 in 2012-13.
Unlike gas and electricity providers, you can’t switch water companies — they’re dictated by where you live. But there are ways to save.
First, think about installing a meter. In general, any home with more bedrooms than people living in it will save money with a meter, and the Consumer Council for Water says single people could save up to £100 a year by having one.
It’s free to get one installed – just ask your provider. The calculator at www.ccwater.org.uk will help you work out if you will make savings, but you also have a year after installation to monitor the charges and, if you find it more expensive, return to unmetered charging.
Anyone who receives certain state benefits or needs extra water due to a particular medical condition may also receive a bill reduction, so it’s worth asking your provider.
Now, with prices on the rise, you should also work on ways to cut your water usage. Ensure you haven’t got any leaks in your home, and replace worn washers on dripping taps. Opt for showers over baths, and in the bathroom, install a low-flush or dual flush insert into your toilet – these use about six litres less water every flush than traditional toilets.
Hippo Water-Savers – like water bricks, they sit in the loo’s cistern and promise to save between one and three litres of water per flush – will help save about £25 worth of water per year for the average home. They cost about £3 each, but some utility firms give them or similar water-saving devices out for free, so ask yours to find out.
www/SaveWaterSaveMoney.co.uk is an excellent resource on water-saving products for the home but also has links to all of the water providers’ free offers: in London, for example, Thames Water offers nine different devices to cut usage in showers, toilets, and in the garden.