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Water meters should be compulsory, say MPs: do they save you money?

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Water companies should be able to force customers to have a water meter, a group of MPs has said.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said there was strong evidence that water metering helps to reduce water use and detect when leaks are occurring.

Currently, only water companies in designated water-stressed regions can make metering compulsory.

Neil Parish MP said: “We need to move beyond a regional approach to water metering, because there is a national need to conserve water.

“We call on Defra [Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs] to allow all water companies the power to implement compulsory metering. That way, companies have the same tools at their disposal to reduce consumption of water in their regions.”

But the MPs acknowledged water meters may mean higher bills for some people.

“Where this might lead to significant bill increases, metering should be accompanied by strengthened support for vulnerable customers,” Parish said.

Who saves money with a water meter?

Unlike gas and electricity, you can’t switch water company to get a better deal. However, installing a water meter could save you money.

The general rule of thumb is if there are more bedrooms than people in your house then a water meter could save you money.

How does a water meter work?

A water meter is a device that measures how much water you use. It is similar to a gas or electricity meter. With a water meter you pay for the amount of water you use rather than being charged a flat rate each year based on the rateable value of your property.

Can anyone request a water meter?

Yes, you have a right to request a meter and your water company should install it within three months.

Will it cost anything?

It should be free of charge unless any changes to your plumbing are needed.

Can you trial a water meter?

Yes, you can give it a go and see if it saves you money. If you change your mind you have a 12-month window to switch back to your old payment method.

How often should your meter be read?

Most companies read meters twice a year, but you can provide readings to your company at any time.

Where will the meter go?

The water company will decide where the meter goes. Their preference is to fit the meter inside your home – these days they use remote technology to read the meter. Having the meter indoors makes it easier for you to take your own readings so you can monitor your water usage.

Meters can also go outside your home in a small metal or plastic cover in your driveway, garden or nearby footpath or in a small wall-mounted box on the side of your property.

I am a tenant. Can I still apply for a meter?

If you live in rented accommodation, you still have the right to apply for a meter.

It is recommended that you ask your landlord’s permission before applying for a meter. If you have a fixed-term tenancy agreement of less than six months, you must ask the landlord’s permission.

If your fixed-term tenancy agreement is longer than six months, your landlord cannot stop you from having a meter. However, you may need their consent to alter or improve their property.