Following the recent announcement of increases to water bills in England and Wales, the Consumer Council for Water has some top tips that could help some customers ensure that they are getting best value for money, and in some cases cut their annual water and sewerage charges.
Although customers have been able to have a water meter installed free of charge for over 10 years, many of those who would make significant saving with a meter have not made the switch. A person living alone currently paying an average unmetered bill might save around £100 a year and for some, savings can be even higher.
The Consumer Council for Waters website (www.ccwater.org.uk) includes a handy water meter calculator to help customers work out if they could save money by having a water meter fitted.
Generally, customers can switch back to the unmetered charge anytime within the first 12 months if they are unhappy with the change.
If a water meter cannot be fitted, customers will have the option of an assessed measured charge which reflects what a likely metered bill would be.
If a customer already has a meter, fixing dripping taps, installing a water saving device in toilets or more water efficient appliances, taking showers rather than baths and collecting rainwater for use in the garden are all great ways to be more water efficient and save money.
Around a quarter of a households energy bill comes from heating water for baths or showers, or for washing clothes or dishes. By reducing water usage, families should also see a reduction in energy bills.
By carefully reading through their water bill, customers may find ways to save. For example, if they have a soakaway which drains rainwater into the ground rather than into the public sewerage system, they can apply to their local sewerage company to have surface water drainage charges removed. This could typically save around £30 each year. If customers have a septic tank they should not be paying sewerage charges at all.
If customers are struggling to pay their bills there are special tariffs and assistance schemes available to help them. Our advice would be for customers to contact their water company to see what help they are eligible for. WaterSure is a scheme that caps a households charges at the average metered bill for their area so vulnerable households can use the water they need without having to worry about a high bill.
Customers receiving income related benefits, who have a meter and either three or more dependant children, or a medical condition that means they need to use more water, are eligible for help under the WaterSure scheme. A low income household of five with a water meter could be spending around £700 per year on water. By applying for the WaterSure scheme they might be able to cut this bill in half.
Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: Customers should not pay any more than they need to for their water or sewerage services. By taking a few minutes to consider our money saving tips and to check their bills, customers can avoid losing out, and in some cases could make real savings.
For more information on ways to save money on water bills and the water meter bill calculator visit www.ccwater.org.uk.