Switching to a water meter could help to reduce your bills. With a water meter you pay for the amount of water you use, so you're more likely to benefit if you live in a property with a high rateable value, or you don’t use much water, perhaps because you live alone.
If you live in rented accommodation, you still have the right to apply for a meter. It’s best to ask your landlord’s permission before applying for a meter.
If you live in England or Wales
If you’re thinking of having a meter installed, try the water meter calculator on the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) website to see if you might be able to save money. Or contact your supplier for more information.
Meters are installed free of charge and you usually have the option to switch back within two years if you change your mind. You shouldn’t end up paying more than an unmetered household.
If you apply for a water meter but the water company can’t install one, you can ask for an assessed charge bill. This takes into account the number of people in the house or the type of property and could save you money. You can only ask for assessed charges if you apply for a water meter first.
If you live in Scotland
Scottish Water will provide a standard meter for free, but if you're the home owner you'll have to pay all of the costs associated with installing it. Bear in mind that once it's installed, it can't be removed.
Be aware that if you're getting a reduction on your water and sewerage bill through Council Tax Reduction, you won't be able to keep getting this if you have a water meter. Citizen's Advice Scotland and Scottish Water have more information on whether a water meter is right for you.
In England and Wales, WaterSure schemes can cap the amount you have to pay for your water bill if you’re on means-tested benefits and need to use a lot of water.
To qualify for a WaterSure scheme you must:
- be on a water meter or waiting to have one installed
- get certain benefits, such as Pension Credit, depending on what your supplier covers
- need to use a high amount of water, for example if you have certain medical conditions, or live with a large family (three children under the age of 19)
You will qualify automatically if you have certain medical conditions, such as incontinence or an abdominal stoma, as long as you meet the other criteria. Speak to your doctor about getting a certificate, which you may have to pay for.
Discount schemes and other help to pay
You can get a range of free services and help if you have particular needs because of your age, disability or an illness. Ask your supplier to include you on their Priority Services Register. In England and Wales contact Ofwat for more information, and in Scotland contact Scottish Water.
Some water suppliers offer discount schemes and lower tariffs for older people or people who are living on a low income or getting certain benefits. What you can get depends on where you live. In England and Wales, visit the CCW website to find out what’s available in your area, or contact your supplier. In Scotland, contact Scottish Water.
If you're struggling to pay your bills, your supplier can't cut off your water supply. They have to take court action to recover the debt. But it's a good idea to talk to them as soon as possible because most of them can offer advice and support to help you pay.
If you're worried about debt, see our Help if you're in debt webpage for advice.
Water Direct is a scheme run by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). If you’re in debt to your water supplier, the DWP can deduct payments for your water bill from your benefits, for example Pension Credit. To apply, contact your water supplier.
If you're in financial difficulty, make sure you’re getting all the money you’re entitled to. Call our Helpline and arrange to speak to an adviser.
Be water wise
Saving water is good for the environment and, if you’re on a meter, these water-saving tips could help cut your bills. Even if you’re not on a water meter, using less hot water could bring down your energy bills.
In the bathroom:
- use a water-saving device, like a Hippo or Save-a-flush, in your toilet cistern. Some water companies supply them for free
- a bath typically uses 80 litres of water, so if possible take a short shower or run a shallower bath – an inch less would save about five litres
- don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving
- change to a water efficient showerhead.
In the kitchen:
- wash vegetables in a bowl rather than under running water. Reuse the water on your plants or garden
- using lids on saucepans reduces the amount of water lost through evaporation. Your food will cook more quickly too
- only fill the kettle with what you need
- Make sure your dishwasher or washing machine is full before you use it. Look for Eco or economy settings.
There are many more tips on the Waterwise website.
A dripping tap or a leak can waste a lot of water – and money - so it’s a good idea to get them fixed as soon as possible. You can find an approved plumber on the Trustmark website.
You can find the name and contact details of your water supplier on the Water UK website.