At the moment, only about 40% of customers in England and Wales have a water meter fitted, but this number is slowly increasing. According to Ofwat (the regulator of water and sewerage providers in England and Wales), the average water bill including sewerage, for households on a meter is £325 a year, compared with £379 for those not on a meter. These savings are mostly due to a change in behaviour and higher consciousness of water efficiency after a meter is fitted, with an average reduction of water consumption between 9%-20%. Before you make a decision to install a water meter it may be worthwhile to read about water meters and the impact on water efficiency and associated savings.
A water meter is a simple device fitted to your incoming water supply pipe which measures the exact amount of water you use in your home, rather than relying on estimates. It records the amount of water passing from the mains pipe direct into your home. Similarly to a gas or electricity meter, it shows exactly how much you use. The water company uses the reading from the water meter to calculate how much to charge for the water and sewerage services used.
Once a water meter is fitted the charges will be based on the amount of water used, rather than a fixed amount each year based on the rateable value (RV) of your property, which does not reflect the number of people living in the property or the amount of water used. If you are not on a water meter you cannot reduce water bills as you always pay a set amount. As with most other types of savings, whether it will be beneficial for you to install a water meter depends on several factors. You need to take into account how much you currently pay on an unmeasured charge (RV) and how much water you use. Households likely to benefit from installing a water meter are those where there are more bedrooms in the household than occupants. In contrast it’s possible that large families may be worse off to single or lower occupancies.
Average domestic use for a single occupancy property is estimated to be around 65 cubic metres per year. Properties with more than one occupier tend to use an additional 50 cubic metres per person per year. Some properties will use significantly more or less than the average and factors which determine this include the number of water consumption appliances in the property, if there is a garden to water, the size of the garden, so in many cases you can save money after installing a water meter, but in others it may result in costing considerably more. Hence if you are already following water saving tips and have some water saving devices installed, you may be using less than the average guidelines and could benefit from the installation of a water meter. Ofwat’s website and many water companies offer specially designed calculators to help you decide whether or not to install a water meter.
If you are already an efficient water saver, opting for a free meter should mean lower bills. Moreover many people find that they make a conscious effort to save water once they have a meter fitted. But a water meter can help you save not only water but also save on energy bills, as saving water may also mean heating less of it which would help reduce energy bills and your carbon footprint, in addition to the original savings on your water bill.
There are two main reasons why you should consider installing a water meter: environmental and financial.
If you are interested in having a meter installed but are worried you may not be using water efficiently, then follow our water saving tips. You can also check your water company’s website for a free water efficiency pack or purchase some of our water saving devices.