All you need to know about getting a water meter installed
If you are worried you are paying too much for your water bills, you may be considering a switch from water rate bills to a water meter as unlike gas or electricity, you cannot just switch your water provider. For some households in England and Wales, switching to a meter can save up to £200 a year.
According to water industry regulator Ofwat, around 40% of customers in England and Wales already pay for metered water, but targets have been set for water companies to increase this figure to 50% by 2015.
What are the steps to get a meter installed?
Most people are entitled to a free water meter so if you think that you could make savings by having one installed, you can find necessary information about getting a water meter fitted by contacting your water company. Save Water Save Money has also come up with few simple tips on how to get a water meter installed below:
- Contact your water company to find out the savings you may make by having a water meter fitted. Water companies' unmeasured and measured tariffs vary considerably however your water company can help you work out how a meter would affect your charges. Bear in mind that if you receive two bills from different companies, one for water supply and the other for sewerage charges, you'll first need to obtain the relevant tariff from each company for each service.
- If you can make savings, ask for an application form for a water meter from your water supplier.
- Fill in the application form and return it to your water company. You can usually do this by post, over the phone or online. Subject to a survey, the water company will fit the meter within three to six months of receiving your application. If you do not want to wait, you can have a meter installed at your own expense, within 30 days of confirming your acceptance in writing of the charges, terms and conditions. This cost varies for each water company but is typically £150.
- Contact your water company to arrange a home assessment for them to determine if a water meter can be installed and the best place for the device to be fitted. Some companies prefer to fit a meter inside the home while others prefer to install in a boundary box outside. Once you have requested for the home assessment to be carried out, the surveyor will usually visit just once. During this visit they will check your property is suitable for a free meter and fit the meter at the same time if applicable. If you wish to have your meter fitted in a specific location you may have to pay additional costs and the surveyor will explain these to you.
Your water supply will only be affected for around two hours while the water meter is being fitted. The fitter may ask you to sign that you have witnessed them carrying out certain safety checks. Sometimes water companies select properties to carry out quality checks so they may ask your permission to visit at a convenient time.
- Within six months of the meter being installed you should receive your first water bill. Your water company should then read the meter at least once a year. You can also read the meter yourself to check your bills and keep an eye on how much you’re using. Your next water bill should be lower and reflect the water usage at your household more accurately than an assessed bill. If you want to save even more water and money, try to switch as many appliances and devices to water efficient options as possible. You can also check your water company’s website to check if they offer any free water saving devices.
Useful tip: It is a good idea to carry out a 'health check' on your plumbing system for obvious signs of water wastage that may, once you switch to a water meter, make your water usage higher than expected. Check things like cistern overflows, dripping taps, header tanks etc. If you find any problems you should fix these before you apply for a water meter.
Will I have to pay to get a water meter installed?
Most domestic customers in England and Wales can have a water meter installed free of charge, subject to a satisfactory survey. The only exception would be when it is unreasonably expensive or impractical for the water company to install a meter. Examples include when the internal stop tap has to be replaced or when a water meter has to be moved after it has already been installed (the customer is always asked to consent to the location of the water meter). In these circumstances the customer would need to pay for the installation of the water meter, although the meter itself would be free. If a water meter cannot be fitted then the customer can be put on an alternative billing known as assessed charges.