AS water bills begin to land on doormats across the country, households are being urged by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) to soak up every opportunity to save money.
Most customers can expect good news when they open their new bills with the average water and sewerage bill in England and Wales set to fall by £9 from April.
But that could still look like a drop in the ocean compared to the other savings customers may be able to make by following CCWater’s money-saving tips.
Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of CCWater, said: “Every day that goes by can mean more hard earned money down the drain.
“That’s why we’re urging everyone to take time to read through our tops tips – some could shave more than £100 a year off a customer’s bill.”
CCWater’s top money saving tips and advice include:
- Consider having a free water meter fitted
Just over half of customers still pay a fixed price for their water bill. However many customers find that having a meter installed for free can deliver significant savings. In some cases annual bill savings can run into hundreds of pounds. As a very general ‘rule of thumb’ if there are more bedrooms in your home than occupants it is certainly worth checking if you might benefit from opting for a meter.
In most cases customers have a ’trial period’ of at least a year during which time they can switch back to their old fixed charges if they change their mind1. However many thousands of customers make the switch every year and never look back.
Companies must also offer an alternative fixed charge if they find a meter can’t be fitted due to pipework issues.
Check out CCWater’s water meter calculator at https://www.ccwater.org.uk to see if making the switch could save you money.
- Check your water bill to make sure you are not paying for a service you don’t receive
If you have a soak-away, which drains all your rainwater into the ground rather than the public sewer, you can apply to have the surface water drainage charges removed from your bill. That can typically reduce a household bill by around £40 or £50 a year. Customers who have a septic tank instead of a connection to the sewerage system should not be paying any sewerage charges. Contact your water company if you think you might be paying for a service you don’t receive.
- Apply for help if you are struggling to pay
By April most water companies will have launched ‘social tariff’ schemes which can provide lower charges to customers who would otherwise struggle to afford their bills. In addition many companies offer assistance through special payment arrangements, charitable trusts and debt write-off schemes depending on circumstances.
If you are struggling to pay your bill check with your water company to see what help it can provide, or alternatively contact CCWater for further advice on 0121 345 1000.
- WaterSure – Help for low income households who need to use a lot of water
If you pay by meter and receive income related benefits but also have high essential water needs due to either a medical condition, or because you have 3 or more children, you can apply for a capped water and sewerage bill. This allows water to be used for essential purposes without the fear of receiving a high bill. Some customers who need to use a lot of water have found they can save hundreds of pounds in some cases. More than 85,000 customers are already receiving this help.
- Save water to save money
Taking simple steps to reduce your water usage can add up to water bill savings for those who already pay by meter, as well as cutting your energy bill where hot water is saved.
- Replace worn washers on leaky taps. A dripping hot water tap wastes energy and over a year could add over £18 to your annual bill.
- For every minute less you spend in the shower you could save between £5 and £10 off your energy bills over the year. You could go one step further and install a water saving shower head, which can cut the amount of water used by about 30 per cent.
- Make sure the dishwasher or washing machine is full before turning it on, and avoid using the half load setting. Half-load cycles use much more than half the energy and water of a full load.
- Collect rainwater in water-butts and use a watering can instead of a hose. A hosepipe left running for an hour can use as much as a family of four uses in a day. If you need to use a hosepipe, fit a trigger nozzle to control the flow.
Many water companies also offer free water saving packs so it’s worth contacting your company or visiting their website for more information.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1 The option to switch back is not available to customers in parts of England where compulsory metering programmes are being introduced.