Water Tariffs & Bills Explained

Sometimes, we don’t pay much attention to how much water we are using, or look at our bills in detail. If you don’t know how to interpret your water tariffs and bills, you could be wasting a lot of money. Knowing a little bit about your water bill can help to save you money and understand why you are paying a particular rate. Here’s a handy guide to water tariffs and bills so that you can feel more informed and find ways to save money.

Choosing a water company

Often, you have to go with the water company that covers your particular area such as Southern Water. However, there might be other companies which offer a better deal. Here’s a helpful article on the different water providers in the UK and which specific areas they cover. Switching suppliers can help save you money, as shopping around could save you up to £300 a year.

Understanding your bill

Water bills and tariffs are different for each water company. Each water company will be able to help you understand your bill, and will often have FAQ’s and guides on their website. If you are unsure about anything on your bill, it’s always worth querying it, as you could be paying more than you need to.

Water/sewer charges are all measured per 1,000 gallons of use. Sewer charges is basically waste water, which comes from your toilet, washing the dishes and washing machines, and this often makes up quite a large chunk of your bill. Your water company will ask you to do a meter reading, or send round a representative to do it, and this is how they calculate your bill.

Water bills show your usage, and it's sensible to check every bill. If you have an increase in usage and you haven’t had someone else move in or been using more water for a specific reason, then you might want to check for leaks or ask your water company about this.

How to cut your water bill

Unfortunately you can't cut the fixed charge as everyone as to pay this in order to ensure a fair service and it contributes to paying for clean water and for dirty water to be taken away. 

Firstly, make sure you have a water meter as some older homes may not have one, although most homes should have been fitted with one by now.  Homes without water meters are charged based on their rateable value which was decided on in 1990. 

You can also use a water calculator provided by the consumer council to work out if getting a water meter is right for you. This can be found at: http://www.ccwater.org.uk/watermetercalculator/. It's relatively easy to fill in and it will ask you questions such as how many showers are taken, how many people are in the household and so on.

The main way you can save money on your water bill is simply to be mindful of how much water you are using. Simple things like not leaving the tap running, having showers instead of baths and only using what you need can save you a lot of money. There’s also a few nifty energy saving devices such as gadgets you put in your shower to tell you when to get out.

If you're a low income household then you can get a cap depending on the number of dependents living with you which can save you up to £250 a year. 

Ways to pay

Direct debit is actually the best option, although people don't seem to understand it much. It saves you money as often companies will give you a discount.  It also ensures that you pay your bills on time, so disputes are kept to a minimum and it's one less thing to worry about.

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