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
Sunday 02 March 2008
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.
How much lower will mortgage rates go?
Money Insider: Peer-to-peer lenders come into their own as marketplace lending evolves
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
Has your Premium Bond won the £1million jackpot?
There are 'dark corners' of the investment and pensions industry, says Pension Minister
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...
£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads