Water meters could become compulsory

Published by Rachel Lacey on 31 January 2011.
Last updated on 03 December 2015

Water meter cover

Homeowners could be forced to install water meters if proposals being considered by the government get the green light.

Currently homeowners have the choice of paying annual water bills which are based on the size of the property, or they can pay for the amount they actually use with a meter. Caroline Spelman, environment secretary is expected to confirm the government's plans within the next few weeks.

Paying for water by a meter is generally considered to be fairer as it ensures you only pay for what you use. So while many light users could save money by installing a meter, larger families and keen gardeners could see the bills soar.

The rule of thumb has always been that if there are less people living in your house than there are bedrooms, you will pay less for your water with a water meter.

Watch our Moneywise TV episode: How to cut your water bill

The proposals come after Anna Walker, chairman of the Office of the Rail Regulator, conducted an independent review of the way households are charged for water and sewerage services in 2009.

She concluded that without water meters there was no way to incentivise people to reduce their water consumption and recommended that 80% of all English homes should be metered by 2020, up from 35% at present.

"Most of us find water and sewerage services cheap – less than a £1 per day for some households," she said. "But the future looks rather different, and in some parts of the country and for some people, the affordability of these services is already a significant issue.

"A combination of significant population growth, the effects of climate change and the need to renew what is often Victorian infrastructure will put increasing pressure on both the availability and the cost of water.

"We need to tackle these challenges now, before they become major problems. The charging system can play an important role in this."

Read: Slash your water bill

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