This is a guest post by Sara Williams who writes about everything to do with debt and credit ratings at Debt Camel.
You can’t switch a cheaper Water Company. People living in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall probably wish they could, as they pay an average of over £900 a year to South West Water if they have a meter. Move a few miles north of that area and people in the Severn Trent area are paying just over £500 for their metered water.
So what can you do to reduce your water bills?
Many people can save hundreds with a water meter
If you don’t have a meter, the amount you pay depends on the rateable value of your house, so the larger your house, the more you pay.
But having more bedrooms doesn’t always mean that you use more water… that depends more on how many people live in your house.
Here is a handy way to see if you are likely to save:
If the number of people in your house is the same or less than the number of bedrooms, you will probably save with a water meter.
Your Water Company may have a more exact calculator on its website you can use to check if you would save by switching.
Three years ago in our three bedroom house, there were two couples and a teenager. So five people – more than the number of bedrooms, so we would probably have paid more with a meter.
Now we are down to just three people and we use a lot less water! That’s the same as the number of bedrooms so I have applied for a water meter.
In some areas you are encouraged to switch by the Water Company letting you go back to unmetered if you don’t get the expected savings!
If a meter isn’t possible
It’s always free to have a meter fitted and you can usually do this even if you are a tenant.
But sometimes the Water Company will say you can’t have a meter. For example, it may not be possible to fit individual water meters to flats.
In this case your Water Company may be able to move you to a lower tariff called an “assessed charge”. Talk to them about this – you don’t have to change to this unless it will save you money.
Can you cut your water usage?
I love money saving ideas that let you have everything exactly the same as before but get charged less.
But once you get a water meter, there are some very easy ways to cut the amount of water you use and save even more. Will any of these work for your family?
- sort out any dripping taps – that could save 75 litres a week or more!
- turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. At 9 litres a minute, twice a day, that adds up.
- fit a device into your toilet cisterns, especially old ones, to reduce the water used per flush. Most water companies will give you these and other water-saving gadgets for free.
- use the water from a condenser drier to water plants.
- get a water butt for the garden.
If you can cut the hot water used in baths, showers, washing machines, dish-washers, and cooking, you also save money on your energy bills.
Get charged at a lower rate?
If you get some benefits, including Pension Credit, JSA, ESA, Income Support, tax credits and Universal Credit, you may qualify for WaterSure if you either have either three or more children under 18 or a medical condition that means you need to use a lot of water. WaterSure caps the amount you will be charged.
There are also cheaper rates, called “social tariffs”, for people some people on low incomes. Unfortunately each Water Company can have slightly different rules about who can get these, so you need to look on your company’s website or give them a call to see if you qualify. There are nearly 400,000 households on these social tariffs but many people still haven’t heard of them, so it’s worth a phone call to see what there is in your area.
Already have bills you can’t pay?
This article has looked at how you reduce your future bills. If you have already had some bills that you haven’t paid because you couldn’t manage it, the Water Companies have a range of measures that can help you, see What to do if you can’t afford to pay a water bill.