STRUGGLING households in Wales 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 accounted for almost a third of customer complaints against water companies in Wales during 2014/15.
Tom Taylor, Chair of CCWater’s Wales Committee, said: “The reality is that each year thousands of water customers in Wales miss out on simple savings.”
“In many cases customers do not know that support exists or that a few simple steps could result in significant savings. Water companies can still do more to raise customers’ awareness of options to cut bills.”
Households can take their first step towards lower bills by reading our top tips:
- 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 mind. 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. For more information see our advice on saving water and money
- 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 £50 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.
- 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 Wales offer the scheme which limits the amount you are charged each year.
- Apply for a social tariff – Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water launched a special tariff in April called ‘HelpU’ which can reduce the bills of low income households. Find out if you’re likely to qualify for help and how to apply by visiting the company’s website or call 0800 052 0145.
- Don’t drown in debt – Most water companies also offer schemes to help customers clear arrears which they have built up on their accounts. Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water operates a Customer Assistance Fund to assist customers in debt. If you’ve fallen behind with water bill payments contact your water company to see how they can help.