How do water meters work? Can being on a water meter save you money? Find out all about water meters
Water meters measure the exact amount of water you use, rather than relying on estimates based on rateable values. Depending on your location and lifestyle, a metered water approach could save you money on your water bills.
What is “rateable value”?
If you don’t currently have a water meter installed at your home, then your water bill is determined by a rateable value of your property, and has nothing to do with the amount of water you actually use.
Rateable values are based on property assessments carried out between 1973 and 1990 (if your home was built post-1990, then it was automatically fitted with a water meter).
So, if you live on your own or in a property with a high rateable value (which cannot be appealed), you may also be paying too much for your water.
How does a water meter work and should I get one?
A water meter is a device that records the amount of water being used in your home for billing purposes, similar to a gas and electricity meter. Your water company checks your water meter to calculate how much to charge you.
A water meter allows your charges to be based on the amount of water you use. Therefore, consider the following factors to determine if you could save with a water meter:
- How much water you use? Do often do you run your washing machine? Do you have a dishwasher?
- How many are in your home? How many people are showering a day? Do any of them shower multiple times a day?
- What do you pay now? Is your home’s rateable value high or low?
What does a water meter installation cost?
Most homes can have a meter installed free of charge. The only exception would be when it is unreasonably expensive or impractical for the water company to install a meter.
If that is the case with your home, you would pay for the installation of the water meter (the meter itself would be free). If a water meter cannot be fitted, then you can be put on assessed charges.
What if I switch to a water meter and it costs more?
According to Ofwat, you can switch back to the rateable value system if you make the request to do so within 12 months of having the water meter installed.
In this amount of time, you should be able to compare the annual bill to determine if you’re paying more or less.
If there is a leak, do I pay for that lost water?
Most water suppliers offer a “leakage allowance”, which means they will remove additional charges related to a leak, as long as the household repairs the leak within a reasonable time period.
Be aware that they will usually only provide this allowance one time.
Could I be forced onto a water meter?
Compulsory metering can occur in areas designated by the Secretary of State as 'water scarce'. This means the water company can, if it is necessary, install meters in all households.