The photo above shows the hatch in front of our back door where the water company can access the pipes into our house. Last summer, not long after moving in, we requested that a water meter was fitted.
In Britain, you pay for water in one of two ways. You can pay a fixed bill, based on the ‘rateable value’ of your house. Or, if you have a water meter, you can just pay for the water that you actually use. All homes built since 1990 have water meters fitted as standard, but older properties only have them if their owners request them, or if one is fitted by the water company after the customer has gone into payment arrears. More information is available from this MoneySavingExpert.com article.
Having a water meter can save you quite a bit of money. If you have an efficient washing machine and dishwasher, take showers instead of baths, or have fewer people living in your house than you have bedrooms, then it may be worth your while looking into a water meter. This applied to us, so we asked Yorkshire Water to fit one. It’s free as long as you live in England and Wales, and, if it’s not for you, you can have it removed within a certain time period.
We got our first post-meter water bill not long after Christmas. Yorkshire Water had charged us £46 per month on the basis of the rateable value of the property. Following the fitting of our water meter, they lowered our bill to just £17 per month. That’s approximately two-thirds cheaper, and should save us over £300 a year.
The caveat is that the water meter was fitted in the summer, when the house was vacant. We didn’t move in until late September, and so it’s possible that our bills will go up again once they’re calculated over a period of continuous occupancy. But clearly, it’s a big fall and will hopefully save us quite a bit of money going forward.
It’s worth mentioning that we don’t have to submit meter readings to the water company. The meter is located outside the property, and can be read wirelessly by an employee or representative of the water company.
If you don’t have a water meter already, I would suggest considering one. There are various online calculators that will tell you whether it is worth your while – in some cases it won’t, but I imagine that many will benefit.