We understand that receiving an unexpectedly high bill can be very stressful. Your water bill may increase unexpectedly for a variety of reasons and we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common ones:

  • You may have more people than usual staying in your home.
  • Brought new appliances that use more water, for example, a power shower or a garden sprinkler.
  • Your home may have been left empty for
  • Your home may be unoccupied certain times of the year.
  • It’s possible that your previous bill is based on estimates rather than a meter reading.
  • You may have a problem with your toilet, such as cisterns that continue to fill, water overflowing into the bowl, or a stuck flush button.
  • Water may drip from your taps, showerheads, boiler or radiator.
  • There may be a leak through your overflow pipe, if you have a water tank in your loft.
  • Home renovations that uses more water.

If none of the options listed above appear to be the cause of an increase to your water bill, there maybe a few other possibilities.

Do you have an internal leak?

One of the most common causes of an unexpectedly high bill is an internal leak. To see if you have a leak in your home, follow the steps below:

  1. Turn off all taps and appliances that uses water, such as a washing machine or dishwasher.
  2. Take a picture of the reading on your water metre or write it down (both red and black digits and dials).
  3. Turn your inside stop tap anti-clockwise as far as it will go to ensure it is fully open. Inside stop taps are usually found under the kitchen sink, but they can also be found in the airing cupboard or beneath the floorboards near the front door.
  4. Allow enough time between the first and second readings. Take a reading before bed and another one in the morning, or a few hours apart during the day. If the second reading is higher than the first and you are certain that no water has been used, you may have a leak.
  5. To see if the leak is internal or external turn off the internal stop tap by turning it clockwise.
  6. After half an hour, take another meter reading. If the meter’s reading increases, it could mean that there is a leak between the meter and the property. In this case, you would be responsible for any repairs.
  7. Contact your water company so that they can look into it further and determine whether the leak is on your private supply pipe or on theirs. If you are the one who is responsible for the repair, you may be able to receive financial assistance. Different water companies have different schemes that may cover this type of repair, so check with your water company to see if help is available. You can also check with your home insurance provider to see if this type of repair is covered under your policy.

If you, a family member or a friend are unable to carry out any of the checks above, please contact your water company and they will advise you if they can send someone out to visit the property to investigate on your behalf.

All water companies in England and Wales offer free additional support to customers to ensure that you have appropriate access to water and sewerage services regardless of your circumstances. More information on these services can be found on our Priority Services page.

Wrong water meter

Occasionally, water companies can have the wrong meter registered as yours. If you think there might be an issue, check that the meter serial number on your bill matches the serial number on your water meter.

Crossed supply

Crossed supply is where you are billed for someone else’s usage – this can happen when you share a supply pipe with your neighbour. If you suspect this might be the issue, contact your water company to investigate this further. This will normally involve an appointment where access to your property and your neighbour’s property is required.

Faulty meter

Water meters can develop faults as they age, causing problems to record the correct volume of water flowing through them. This is extremely rare, and when it does occur, the meter tends to under-record rather than over-record.

Billing issues

Is your most recent bill based on a water meter reading when previous bills were estimated (or vice versa)?

  • Check if your bill is based on an estimated reading, the letter E will appear on it.
  • If your bill was calculated based on an actual reading, it will be marked with an A.
  • If previous bill estimates were low and an actual reading was now taken, the high charge could be correcting previous low bills. The water company is only required to send you one bill per year based on an actual reading.
  • If you want your water company to use an actual reading rather than an estimate, you can usually call them and tell them your meter reading. Some companies allow you to do this online.

See what help is available to you if you’re having trouble paying your bills, you may be eligible for additional financial support.