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Water usage down, bills up, when water meter installed

in Water bills
8 replies 2K views
I'm all in favour of water meters, they are fair - as long as the water company isn't just trying to make a quick buck when they make you get one.
Our house used to be a 4-bed house with a 2-bed annexe (same address and water bill) and large garden - in one of the more affluent parts of Bristol (i.e. high rateable value). As such the water bill when we were not metered was about £35 per month.
Then the house was split into two properties, and we were forced to have a meter.
Our family of 4 tried to be really careful with using water, and in fact our consumption was below average, and yet our bills went up to £50 a month.
So how does Bristol Water justify charging around 40% more when the property size has reduced by 1/3 and the garden by about 3/4 (watered solely by rainwater)? Bear in mind that this is an affluent area so the original rateable value would have been quite high.
Using the rule-of-thumb guide that if you have more bedrooms than people (in our case 4 people and 6 bedrooms), then the bills should have gone down.
It smacks of opportunism to me.
Has anyone else had similar experiences?

Replies

  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    Bristol Water charges are here:

    http://www.bristolwater.co.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Your-charges-explained-2014.pdf

    For unmeasured charges i.e. on Rateable Value(RV), for 2014/15 the Standing charges are £42 and combined water/sewerage charge is £2.67 per £1 RV.

    If you were paying £35 a month(£420 pa) in 2014/15 that would mean the RV would be £142.

    Far from being a high RV, £142 is an extremely low RV - many 3 bed semis will have a RV well above £200. £400 to £500 would not be unusual for a big detached house.

    However the stupidity of the RV system means is not unusual for some large houses to have a low RV. Bear in mind that the last general revaluation of RV in England was in 1973(up to 1990 for houses built after that date) and many factors could have contributed to the low RV of your house.

    So your assumption that your property would have a high RV is incorrect.

    Turning to your current charges, the average consumption is 55 cubic metres per person per year - so 220 cubic metres pa for your family of 4.

    From the charges in the link above, that consumption(220 cubic metres) would cost £828 pa - £69 a month if charged for 12 months. So as you rightly say, you are using well below average if paying £50 a month.
    as long as the water company isn't just trying to make a quick buck ---- It smacks of opportunism to me.

    Not so I am afraid. You do not understand the way water companies are financed.

    All water companies have the revenue they can raise, and hence profit margins, tightly controlled by the Regulator. So it doesn't matter to the water companies if you are metered or not metered, pay £1 pa or £1,000pa, as the revenue they raise will be the same as they simply adjust their charges to raise the £xxx million revenue. They are in a win/win situation.

    If you are in favour of meters as you claim in your post('as long as it is fair') consider this!

    Was it fair that when unmetered you were paying hundreds of pounds less for a large 6 bed property in a posh area of Bristol(with large garden you could water) than a family of 4 in a metered 2 bed flat in St Pauls?

    Don't think in any way I am a supporter of Water companies - privatisation of a monopoly like water was and is a disaster. They really cannot lose, as is reflected in their ever increasing share price and attraction to foreign investors.
  • Thanks for the detailed clarification.
    Cardew wrote: »
    However the stupidity of the RV system means is not unusual for some large houses to have a low RV. Bear in mind that the last general revaluation of RV in England was in 1973(up to 1990 for houses built after that date) and many factors could have contributed to the low RV of your house.
    So your assumption that your property would have a high RV is incorrect.

    I suspect that the house both grew (annexe added) and went up in the world after the 70s - hence low RV. Though I'm surprised that it could have been less valuable at any time than a 2-bed flat in St Pauls.
    Cardew wrote: »
    Turning to your current charges, the average consumption is 55 cubic metres per person per year - so 220 cubic metres pa for your family of 4.
    From the charges in the link above, that consumption(220 cubic metres) would cost £828 pa - £69 a month if charged for 12 months. So as you rightly say, you are using well below average if paying £50 a month.

    We couldn't have cut our water usage much more than we did - brief shower for adults, kids sharing shallow bath, rainwater harvesting for garden, not flushing the loo every time... I think we were using less than 400 litres of water a day.
    Cardew wrote: »
    You do not understand the way water companies are financed.
    All water companies have the revenue they can raise, and hence profit margins, tightly controlled by the Regulator. So it doesn't matter to the water companies if you are metered or not metered, pay £1 pa or £1,000pa, as the revenue they raise will be the same as they simply adjust their charges to raise the £xxx million revenue. They are in a win/win situation..

    Not sure I get this bit. So for the same metered usage my bills should be the same around the country?
    My inlaws in Hampshire have a 4-bed house with decent sized garden (which they water only partly with rainwater) and pay next to nothing on a metered system.
    Cardew wrote: »
    If you are in favour of meters as you claim in your post ('as long as it is fair') consider this!
    Was it fair that when unmetered you were paying hundreds of pounds less for a large 6 bed property in a posh area of Bristol (with large garden you could water) than a family of 4 in a metered 2 bed flat in St Pauls?
    .
    Nope! it wasn't! Nor was it fair when I was living alone in a 2-bed terraced house paying the same as the family of 4 opposite! Luckily as I have now moved out of Bristol, my water bills have dropped again.
    Win some, lose some, I guess!
  • Andy_WSMAndy_WSM Forumite
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    Bristol Water and the other companies in the SW have some of the highest charges in the Country. An element of the charge is to keep the beaches clean in this area - a fee that you could argue should be paid by central Government, not the residents as the benefit is for tourists and residents alike.

    The whole privatised water system is a sorry mess.

    I manage to get one over at the moment as my house has rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing, washing machine use etc and I use more metered rainwater than I do mains water so my bills are a lot lower than they otherwise would be - although at a substantial investment cost.

    As Cardew says though, The profit they can make is pre-determined, so expect year on year rises, more so as people use less water! Ironic isn't it, but the price will go up to cover the profits, so the less people use overall, the more they will pay per m3
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    jelliest wrote: »
    Thanks for the detailed clarification.



    I suspect that the house both grew (annexe added) and went up in the world after the 70s - hence low RV. Though I'm surprised that it could have been less valuable at any time than a 2-bed flat in St Pauls.

    You have misunderstood on this point. I was comparing your UNMETERED charges based on the RV with a METERED 2 bed flat in St Pauls.


    The house 'growing' was indeed a major reason why the RV on some houses remained low - it should have been declared but;)


    We couldn't have cut our water usage much more than we did - brief shower for adults, kids sharing shallow bath, rainwater harvesting for garden, not flushing the loo every time... I think we were using less than 400 litres of water a day.


    Not sure I get this bit. So for the same metered usage my bills should be the same around the country?
    My inlaws in Hampshire have a 4-bed house with decent sized garden (which they water only partly with rainwater) and pay next to nothing on a metered system.

    Again I perhaps haven't explained myself well. Metered(and unmetered) charges vary hugely across the country. Bristol pays £3.32 per cubic metre, in SW water it is around £5. In the Midlands I pay£.2.47


    Nope! it wasn't! Nor was it fair when I was living alone in a 2-bed terraced house paying the same as the family of 4 opposite! Luckily as I have now moved out of Bristol, my water bills have dropped again.
    Win some, lose some, I guess!

    I have put some comments in red above.
  • Foxy16Foxy16 Forumite
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    I am with Bristol Water, £35. per month for a property in an affluent area, seems incredibly low. A couple of years ago I moved into a 2 bed 1929 bungalow in a mid class area of Bristol, this years water bill based on RV was over £600. I had a meter installed and will be saving approx. £300.
  • lstar337lstar337 Forumite
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    I had a really crummy 2 bed flat in a really crummy area served by Bristol Water and paid £35/month, and I though that was pretty cheap.

    £35/month for a 4 bed in a nice area, you were laughing! Not any more though it seems.
  • JJ_EganJJ_Egan Forumite
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    £35 PM for an effluent area is relatively low .My non metered bill was £550 PA .

    Its always possible that the OP has a leak .
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    JJ_Egan wrote: »
    £35 PM for an effluent area is relatively low .My non metered bill was £550 PA .

    Its always possible that the OP has a leak .


    He would smell it!
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