STRUGGLING households could be missing out on simple savings on their water bills, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
The water watchdog wants to help customers take more control of their bills by plugging into the growing number of opportunities households have to reduce their water and sewerage charges.
The advice comes in the wake of a report by CCWater which revealed bills and charges remain water customers’ biggest gripe with the industry, accounting for 60 per cent of complaints in 2014/15.
Andy White Senior Policy Manager, said: “The reality is that each year thousands of water customers miss out on savings worth millions of pounds.
“In many cases customers are not aware that support exists or that a few simple steps could result in significant savings. The industry also still needs to do more to raise awareness so customers’ bills are more affordable.”
Households can take their first step towards lower bills by reading our top tips:
- Apply for a social tariff – Most water companies in England and Wales now offer reduced ‘social tariffs’ for customers on lower incomes.
- Look into WaterSure – If you’re already on a water meter but have high usage needs due to a large family or a medical condition, and you also receive income-related benefits, then the WaterSure scheme can help. All water companies in England and Wales offer the scheme which limits the amount you are charged each year.
- Switch to a water meter – For many households the most effective way of cutting their water bill is to opt to have a water meter installed free of charge. Some people can save more than £100 a year and there’s usually an option to switch back to your original unmeasured charges within the first year if you change your mind1. It won’t benefit everyone but as a ‘rule of thumb’ if your property has more bedrooms than people living there it’s definitely worth checking if you could save. Use the Consumer Council for Water’s online calculator to find out how much, if anything, you would be likely to save.
- Get smart with your water and energy use – If you have a meter then using water more efficiently will cut your water bill. Even if you aren’t metered being efficient with hot water usage can help reduce your energy bills.
- Save with a soak-away – If you have a soak-away, which drains rainwater into the ground, you can apply to have the surface water drainage charges removed from your bills. This could typically save you around £35 a year. Customers who have a septic tank instead of a connection to the sewerage system shouldn’t be paying any sewerage charges. Contact your water company if you think you might be paying for a service you don’t receive.
- Don’t drown in debt – Many water companies also offer schemes to help customers clear arrears which they have built up on their accounts. These can take the form of one-off trust fund payments or allowances against arrears if regular payments are made. If you’ve fallen behind with water bill payments contact your water company to see how they can help.
1 The option to switch back is not available to customers in parts of England where compulsory metering programmes are being introduced.