Water metering: the trickle-down effect

With charges rising, Esther Shaw asks if more of us would benefit from a pay-as-you-use approach

Household budgets are set to be stretched even further when water bills go up at the beginning of April – prompting many more people to consider installing water meters to keep a lid on costs.

When you have a meter, you pay only for the water you use, rather than a fixed charge based on the rateable value of your home. At present, around a third of houses are metered, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCW). Figures from price-comparison service uSwitch. com suggest households could save as much as £125 a year by installing one.

"Water meters may not result in cheaper bills for everyone, but there are many who would benefit," says uSwitch spokesman Geoff Slaughter. "Fitting a meter is free of charge, and if you find you are not saving money or are not happy with the change, you can switch back to unmeasured charging within 12 months."

According to uSwitch, if there are fewer people in your house than bedrooms, then you could save money with a meter.

However, Mr Slaughter warns that a meter may not be an economical way for larger families to pay for their consumption.

USwitch offers a "water calculator" on its website, while many of the water companies have their own "ready reckoners".

Tenants as well as homeowners can ask to have a meter fitted, according to industry regulator Ofwat, although they will need to get their landlord's consent if, for example, plumbing work is required.

Water firms can refuse to install a meter if it is impractical or unreasonably expensive to fit one. Blocks of flats and other properties in multiple occupation are likely to have a single meter, with bills averaged out among all the households in the building. But, cost permitting, meters may in some cases be fitted in individual flats.

As a general rule, households cannot be forced to have a water meter fitted, although there are certain exceptions, including homes in an area of "water stress" or "water scarcity", as classified by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

"The Government wants to move towards metering of all areas of 'water stress' by 2030," says Nick Ellins from the CCW. "Clearly this will hit the South-east because of the dry weather and the high level of population. Currently, only Folkestone and Dover in Kent have this status, but other water companies are applying for it."

Mr Ellins adds that about 80 per cent of households would save money by having a meter, especially as with fixed charges there are no reductions for people who live alone. He points out that there are other advantages too. "Once you've got one of these meters, it will encourage you to start looking at what steps you can take to reduce your consumption. The agenda here is environmental."

Mr Slaughter agrees that the move should promote more efficient use of water, but adds that it would be unfair for the water companies to make meters compulsory until they have tackled the backlog of repairs to leaking pipes, which are said to waste nearly 3.5 billion litres every day in the UK. Thames Water failed to meet its leakage targets for the third successive year last year, according to uSwitch.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn