Given the cost, it is hardly surprising that more than three million households find their water bills unaffordable, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).
The bad news is that if you are unhappy with your water company’s charges or customer service you cannot switch, as you can with gas and electricity, because water is provided by regional monopoly suppliers.
One thing you could do is switch to a water meter, joining around 40 per cent of households that are now metered.
So would this leave you feeling flushed?
If you do not have a meter, you will normally be charged a fixed or flat amount each year, regardless of how much water you actually use.
Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySupermarket.com, said unmetered bills are based on factors such as where you live and the rateable value of your property: “Your bill includes a standing charge for water, and a further charge for collecting and treating your dirty water.”
You can ask your water company to install a meter, which will measure your usage and set charges in a similar way to a gas or electricity meter.
Installation is free in England and Wales, but you may have to contribute in Scotland. Pratt said this is a much fairer way of billing, but there is the danger that heavy users could end up paying more: “As a rule of thumb, a meter could be effective if there are more bedrooms than people in your household, say, if you are two people living in a four-bed family home.”
Switching to a water meter could save between £50 and £100 a year, but beware of splash back. “Larger families could find that their water consumption actually costs them more,” he said.
If you switch to a water meter and find you are not saving money, you can switch back to unmeasured charging within 12 months. Website CCWater.org.uk includes an online calculator to show whether you are likely to save water.
If interested, contact your water company to arrange a home assessment to see whether a meter can be installed.
If it cannot, your water company must offer to switch to an alternative assessed charge instead. Pratt added: “This is an estimate of what your water bill might have been had a meter been installed.”
If a meter cannot be fitted and you live alone you can apply for a single person discount, usually around 25 per cent off.
Turning off the tap when brushing teeth could save a family of four up to £50 on metered water bills, while cutting a minute off shower times could save them £120 on water and energy.
Ask your supplier whether it offers any water-saving devices such as a Save-a-Flush for your toilet or a watersavers’ pack, or buy one yourself. Online tool the aqKWa Savings Engine at Aqkwa.co.uk examines your household water usage and suggests ways to cut back.
Summer is coming and with hosepipes or sprinklers using up to 1,000 litres of water an hour, consider using a bucket and sponge to wash the car, or a watering can to nourish your plants.
Robertson said at peak demand, up to 70 per cent of Britain’s water supply may be used in gardens, mostly for watering plants and lawns: “If you have to use a sprinkler, wait until it is cooler and evaporation rates are lowest, such as early morning or late afternoon.”
Do not panic if your lawn goes brown after two to three weeks without water, as most lawns can survive up to four to six weeks.
“The grass will soon revive when it next rains, so avoid over-watering,” he added. If you have a meter, keeping a close eye on your water usage can save you from pouring money down the drain.
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