Is it cheaper to get a water meter?


The regulator has said that water companies are again planning to raise household prices.
David Black, head of water services regulation authority Ofwat, suggested suppliers wanted bills to rise to fund infrastructure investment.
This is despite the sector being scrutinised over financial uncertainty, dividend payouts and environmental failures.
Black told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday: “We expect companies will request increases in bills at the next price review to fund larger investment programmes, and those programmes will deliver improvements to the environment.”
The UK’s largest supplier, Thames Water, is trying to secure its long-term future as it faces pressure over its roughly £14bn debt.
But Black stressed that customers would not be made to cover the cost of the Thames collapse.
Many people will be seeking to reduce their water bills, so it might be worth considering if now is the time to have a water meter.
In England and Wales, you can either be billed for water by an estimate depending on the size of your home (rateable value) or by installing a water meter that will keep track of what you use.
Water meters have been put in all newly built homes since 1990, but you can still obtain one for free upon request.

A Smart Investment for Cost-Conscious Consumers

Customers in Scotland have their water bills calculated using council tax bands, while Northern Ireland has no charges for domestic water.
As a homeowner, you can request a water meter installation at no cost unless deemed impractical or unreasonably expensive.
Tenants with rental agreements lasting six months or more also have the right to request a water meter.
Martin Lewis, the founder of Money Saving Expert, advises homeowners to consider getting a meter if there are more bedrooms than people or the same number.
Water bills cost us hundreds of pounds every year, yet what you are charged is often based solely on estimates using the size and location of your property.
It means that if you live alone in a big house, you could be paying for much more water than you use.
However, this is all changing as utility firms are now rolling out smart meters across the country that will deliver regular updates on how much water you are using.
Some providers are even making meters mandatory and – as homeowners have been finding out – can fit one without you knowing.
According to the regulator Ofwat, about 61pc of customers in England and Wales have a water meter. Still, this figure is set to soar as firms install them across southern England, from Swindon to Suffolk.

The Pros and Cons of Installing a Water Meter

For those with the option to install a water meter, whether or not it would be beneficial for you (and whether or not you have a say in the matter) is dependent on several factors: mainly where you live, but also the size of your household, and how many baths you take a week.
The Energy Savings Trust charity estimates the average annual household water bill to be £427, and there are no competitive rates for water suppliers – your supplier depends on where you live, and that’s that.
Amid all the discourse about intelligent energy meters, it may be tempting to think of a water meter as a modern invention in line with the former, but that’s not the case. Traditional water meters operate like their gas and electric equivalents.
Unmetered houses are billed based on a property’s rateable value. This is set by the Government and is based on your home’s location and size.
If you do have a meter, how your provider bills you is the same as your energy provider, either by setting up a direct debit or paying on account receipt every month.

Weighing the Economic Benefits

Either way, you pay for the water you use, so if your usage spikes and you use more water than your monthly payments cover, it will be reflected when your provider reassesses your direct debit every six months.
Like intelligent energy meters, they provide up-to-the-minute data on usage. Providers claim smart water meters make it even easier to detect leaks, but there is no difference between metered and smart-metered properties in how much households are charged.
Some smart meters can be read remotely from a vehicle on the road, while more advanced models are linked to a communications network, typically providing daily updates.
The type of meter a provider fits a property is up to them. Intelligent meters have become the default option for providers like Thames Water, who are already rolling out meters compulsorily.
“While we don’t need permission to fit smart meters, they are the fairest option for customers, as people only pay for the water they use,” a Thames Water spokesman said.

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Olivia Wilson

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