Following the recent announcement of increases to water bills in 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 single 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 meter cannot be fitted, customers can apply for an assessed measured charge which reflects what a likely metered bill would be.
If there is already 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 useful ways to be more water efficient and save money.
In addition, around a quarter of a households energy bill comes from heating water for baths, showers, washing clothes or dishes. By reducing hot water usage, there will also be a reduction in energy bills.
By carefully reading through the water bill, customers may find other 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 sewerage company to have surface water drainage charges removed. This could typically save around £30 each year.
If customers are struggling to pay their bills there are special tariffs and assistance schemes available to help. Customers should contact their water company to see what help they might be eligible for. D?r Cymrus Welsh Water Assist is a scheme that caps a households charges so vulnerable households can use the water they need without having to worry about a high bill.
Customers receiving income related benefits and who can provide proof of a medical condition that means they use significantly more water, or have three or more dependant children, could get help under the Welsh Water Assist scheme. Customers of Dee Valley Water who meet the same criteria and also have a water meter can apply for a similar scheme, called WaterSure.
Customers falling behind with their water payments and in receipt of income related benefits could automatically have payments deducted from their benefits until arrears are clear. D?r Cymrus Welsh Waters customers can reduce their bill by £25 if the chose to do so through the Water Direct scheme.
D?r Cymrus Welsh Water customers in financial hardship with arrears of £150 or more could also be eligible for the Customer Assistance Fund as long as they are committed to making regular payments towards their current charges.
Diane McCrea, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water Wales Committee, said: Water and sewerage charges in Wales are relatively high so customers need to be sure that they are not paying more than they need to. By taking a few minutes to consider our money saving tips, and checking their bills, customers can avoid losing out, and in some cases could make real savings.”
Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, Jane Davidson said: “I welcome CCWater’s advice to help customers save money on their water bills. Ensuring that water bills are set at affordable levels for Welsh customers is a key priority of the Assembly Government. “Many of CCWater’s suggestions, including switching to a water meter, fixing leaking taps and reducing hot water use, can not only help customers save money but can also help Wales to reduce its carbon footprint and preserve precious water resources.” For more information on ways to save money on water bills and the water meter bill calculator visit www.ccwater.org.uk.