Martin Lewis: Check if you could save £100s on your water bill with a meter

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MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis has urged households to check if they can save money on their water bills by having a meter fitted. 

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Martin Lewis: Check if you could save £100s on your water bill with a meter


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  • edited 10 November 2021 at 9:13AM
    LeodoggerLeodogger Forumite
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    edited 10 November 2021 at 9:13AM
    I recently used the water meter calculator linked through your web site to find out if my water which is already on a meter was being calculated correctly.    Even with water saving devices and only using the items they asked me about which I filled in, the amount I should be paying with South Staffs was £225 pa, I am paying £480 pa !!   How did they work that out, plus my water standing fees charged were twice what the calculator said they should be, yet the calculator said it was based on 2021-22 charges !  the only things it didn't ask me about was how many cups of tea we have which are quite a lot and we are retired, but apart from making tea, the rest of the questions asked related exactly to what we use.
  • Recently changed my direct debit date with the infamous Southern Water from the 1st to the 5th and discovered that during
    the process they decided to up my monthly payments from £48 to £66 for 1 month and from then on to £57. When I called
    and queried I was bamboozled by figures and stats which I could not agree with. Eventually had to escalate to the "complaints" dept who also started the bamboozling but eventually agreed that if I had not of changed my payment date by
    4 days they would not have increased the DD payments and that I should have been notified of the changes on email or letter but they could see they had not done either which they would look into with IT
    Long and short of it was after around 45 mins of polite arguing they agreed to revert to the original DD payment of £48 and because it was too late to change this months payment of £66 they would give me a credit of £25 on the account as a goodwill gesture .... pays to haggle but should we have to ?
  • Diana2014Diana2014 Forumite
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    Getting a water meter isn't the only way to save on water bills: there are a number of discounts etc which can be claimed that seriously reduce the amounts which one can be charged.
    For a start, water companies assume that we send exactly the same amount of dirty water into the sewers as we use clean water to our taps. But gardeners use a lot of water on their plants, which doesn't then go into the sewers at all: it soaks into the ground instead. Companies run waste-water rebate schemes under which one can claim for regular use of tap water on gardens, as well as for filling swimming-pools etc etc.
    Anyone who diverts rainwater that falls on their own property into water-butts or tanks, then uses that water for gardening etc, can also claim a separate discount - because the rate charged for waste-water assumes that all rainwater also goes into the sewer system. If you use all your rainwater instead, then the discount could be substantial.
    Then there are schemes which reduce water charges for those on very low incomes - but such reductions also have to be actively claimed.
    Because water companies differ, check your own water supplier to see what rebates, discounts and reductions are relevant to you.

    Also, water companies are subject to minimum standards of conduct governing their dealings with their customers over water bills. If the company ignores claims for legitimate reductions in charges, or objections to overpayments eg by misuse of direct debits, then they have to pay penalties for doing that - a penalty for every time that they ignore the customer's objection, not just for each substantive type of complaint. So a series of complaints about the same issue which are all ignored, or not answered within the statutory period for sending a substantive reply, will generate a series of penalties - not just the one penalty.
    There's a statutory scheme setting minimum standards and penalty rates but the water company may have its own scheme, which can't be less generous to the customer than the statutory one but may be more generous - so check both.
    If the water companies ignore complaints, including claims for payment of these penalties (usually by offsetting against water bills), then those can be escalated via the Consumer Council for Water and, ultimately, the regulator.

    It's worth checking your actual liability for water charges against the effect of direct debits. If the annual amount being taken via DD seriously exceeds the proper charges (taking into effect discounts etc, as well as any penalties due from the water company), then it's advisable to cancel the DD at least until the account is sorted out to your satisfaction.

    Claiming discounts is tiresome but worthwhile. Claiming penalties is harder, but can save a lot of money where the water company is behaving badly. Escalating a complaint high enough to get it sorted out is time-consuming but can be very worthwhile in really serious cases.
  • SwipeSwipe Forumite
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    Single person here, I went from paying £630 pa rateable value to just £170-£180 pa on a water meter.
  • wild666wild666 Forumite
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    I'm single and pay £9 per month, that's just £108 per year, a big drop from the £450 I was paying 3 years ago. 
    Someone please tell me what money is
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    Diana2014 said:
    Getting a water meter isn't the only way to save on water bills: there are a number of discounts etc which can be claimed that seriously reduce the amounts which one can be charged.
    For a start, water companies assume that we send exactly the same amount of dirty water into the sewers as we use clean water to our taps. But gardeners use a lot of water on their plants, which doesn't then go into the sewers at all: it soaks into the ground instead. Companies run waste-water rebate schemes under which one can claim for regular use of tap water on gardens, as well as for filling swimming-pools etc etc.
    Anyone who diverts rainwater that falls on their own property into water-butts or tanks, then uses that water for gardening etc, can also claim a separate discount - because the rate charged for waste-water assumes that all rainwater also goes into the sewer system. If you use all your rainwater instead, then the discount could be substantial.


    Dirty water(i.e. from sinks, baths toilets etc) used in the house does go back into the sewer for almost all houses on mains drainage. Many water companies give an automatic discount on sewerage charges as an allowance for evaporation/car washing/use on the garden etc This discount is generally between 5% to 10% applied by reducing the charge for sewerage. e.g if you use, say 100 cubic metres and your water company gives a 10% discount, you will be still charged for 100 cubic metres sewerage but the sewerage price will have been reduced by 10%.

    It is possible to have water harvesting systems for 'Grey water' (i.e. all household waste water other than toilets) and you can get a further discount off your sewerage charge. Also if you use more than 10% of mains water for gardens/swiming pools etc, but you normally have to prove the amount used by an approved metering system fitted at your expence. 

    'Sewerage abatements

    We calculate 90% of the water used by most households will flow back into sewers for recycling. A 10% allowance is made for things like watering the garden.

    You could increase this allowance if you can show us that less water is being released back into the public sewers. For example if you have:

    • a pond
    • a swimming pool
    • a spa or hot tub
    • a grey water harvesting system

    that isn't connected to the public drainage system. Lawn and seasonal watering allowances can also be requested.'


    Rain water is another matter.

    Many(most) houses have surface water drainage so their rain water from gutters/ground doesn't go into the sewerage system; thus there is a reduction on the sewerage charge(which must be claimed).

    Those who have their rain water going into the sewers, pay the full sewerage charge and it is very difficult to get any reduction on that charge as it is almost impossible to measure how much water is prevented from going into the sewer. 

    'Quote

    To summarise, you could be entitled to a reduction if: 

    Either: 

    • All the rainwater or groundwater from your home drains directly to the ground or via a soakaway 

    Or: 

    • All the rainwater or ground water from your home drains directly into a watercourse, brook or stream and does not enter the public sewer. 

    Or: 

    • You pay a third party e.g. British Waterways to dispose of your surface water. 


    Unfortunately, you won’t be entitled to a reduction if: 

    • Any proportion of your surface water drains to a public sewer.

    • Only part of your surface water goes to a soakaway with some surface water still draining to the public sewer.

    • You have re-directed your roof drainage into water butts.

    • You drain to a watercourse, brook or stream via a public sewer.

    • You have any rainwater harvesting systems installed at your home (for example, you use rainwater to flush your toilet cistern).'







  • QrizBQrizB Forumite
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    Diana2014 said:
    Anyone who diverts rainwater that falls on their own property into water-butts or tanks, then uses that water for gardening etc, can also claim a separate discount - because the rate charged for waste-water assumes that all rainwater also goes into the sewer system. If you use all your rainwater instead, then the discount could be substantial.
    and
    Cardew said:
    Rain water is another matter. 
    My house is of an age that at least some of the rainwater goes to soakaways, not to the sewer.
    My water company knows this and offered me a discount of around £10 per year. That's hardly "substantial"!
    However I couldn't accept in good faith as I don't know exactly where one of my downpipes goes, but it's suspiciously close to my foul drain ...
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Voda BB / Virgin mobi. Ripple WT2 member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 2.5kw inverter. 28MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
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