Water bills set to rise
Water bills are set to increase by as much as £29 in 2008/09 bringing the average annual cost to around £330.
The water regulator Ofwat says households are likely to see their annual water and sewerage bills increase by an average of £18 in 2008/09 although the cost will vary from company to company. Customers of Wessex Water face the biggest rise, of £29 a year, for water and sewerage services while Southern Water customers face a combined increase of £26 (for all company price increases see table below).
The rise will be unwelcome news for most households who are already facing an increase in gas and electricity, food, council tax and mortgage repayments.
Ofwat says companies are increasing the cost of water in order to pay for environmental measures as well as ongoing maintenance of services.
Regina Finn, chief executive of Ofwat, said the increases account for inflation at 4.3% plus a further 1.5%.
She added: “Clearly any bill increases are going to be unwelcome, but these price rises are essential to enable companies to continue to provide high-quality, secure water and sewerage services both now and for future generations. The increases also go towards significant improvements to protect the environment."
Lower your water bill
Installing a water meter could save you money on bills, especially if your water usage is low. For most customers, fitting a meter is free – just contact your water company to find out if one could benefit you.
Once you've installed a meter you can save money by changing your water habits. You can now buy devices for your toilet cistern that can save up to three litres of water per flush. You can also purchase water saving showerheads that, according to uSwitch.com, reduce water wastage by up to 70%.
Free measures to save water include fixing dripping taps, taking showers instead of baths and buying water efficient dishwashers and washing machines. You should also avoid leaving taps running.
Using hoses and sprinklers in the garden also use a lot of water, so collecting rainwater in water butts is a good way to save the pennies.
Average household bills for 2008/09:
|Companies||Combined sewerage & water customers||Water only customers|
|Anglian Water||£377|| £21
|DWr Cymru|| £386
|North East|| £308
|Essex & Suffolk|| n/a
|Severn Trent Water|| £292
|South West Water|| £497
|Southern Water|| £358
|Thames Water|| £286
|United Utilities|| £359
|Wessex Water|| £395
|Yorkshire Water|| £323
|Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water|| n/a
|Dee Valley Water||n/a||n/a||£127||£11|
|Folkstone & Dover Water||n/a||n/a||£181||£10|
|Mid Kent Water||n/a||n/a||£160||£6|
|South East Water||n/a||n/a||£161||£3|
|South Staffordshire Water||n/a||n/a||£118||£6|
|Sutton & East Surrey Water||n/a||n/a||£159||£5|
|Tendring Hundred Water||n/a||n/a||£166||£6|
|Three Valleys Water||n/a||n/a||£159||£4|
|Source: Ofwat 25/02/08|
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).