How to reduce your water bill

Many thousands of homes in the capital could save £100 or more a year by installing a water meter
Most water bills are subject to a price hike this month, with Thames Water’s 2009/10 prices up 2.4 per cent to an average of £295, according to comparison website www.uswitch.com.

But while the typical rise in annual costs is only a few pounds, many thousands of homes in the capital could still be paying too much for their water because they don’t have a meter. For some households, metered billing could save £100 or more a year.

Is a meter for you?


Unlike gas and electricity, water customers can’t switch around for a better deal, but by going on to a meter they can, at least, ensure they pay only for the water they use, rather than having a bill based on the “rateable value” of the property they live in.

The rule of thumb is that if there are more bedrooms in your home than people living there, a meter could save money. Uswitch and the Consumer Council for Water (www.ccwater.org.uk) have online calculators for working out whether you could pay less.

A single person living alone in a property with an average rateable value could save about £100 a year by having their water use metered, says the CCW.

Water suppliers install meters for free. If you find you are not saving money or are unhappy with the change, you can switch back to unmetered billing within 12 months. If savings appear minimal it may be worth sticking with traditional bills - especially if your household could grow.

More savings on offer


Having a meter encourages a household to reduce water consumption, which in turn cuts costs, according to savewatersavemoney.co.uk, a website that sells water-efficient shower heads, garden water butts and other devices to reduce water use.

Classic advice about not running the tap when brushing your teeth, or using a washing up bowl instead of washing under running water still holds true and are simple ways to keep metered water bills down. Reducing hot water consumption will keep other household bills down, too, points out waterwise.org.uk.

Customers who are told that a meter can’t be installed at their property - for example, because they live in a flat - can ask to have their charges assessed at an estimated metered rate, which could yield savings. If a supply pipe leak triggers higher metered bills, households can claim for a “leakage allowance” refund.

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