Water meters should be compulsory say MPs - but large households could see their bills rise

Published by Edmund Greaves on 10 October 2018.
Last updated on 10 October 2018

Water meter

Households could be in for higher water bills after a committee of MPs called for firms to be given power to install compulsory meters.

The Parliamentary Environment, Food and Rural Affair Parliamentary Committee (EFRA) committee says it has heard strong evidence to suggest that water metering helps to reduce wastage and detect leaks.

But as it stands only water companies in designated “water-stressed” regions can enforce compulsory meters on households. Households without meters only pay a fixed amount for their service, not for the amount of water they consume.

The committee says it now wants the power to force water metering on households be given to all water companies to help protect water supplies, after drought warnings this summer provoked fears of more water shortages in future.

Having a water meter tends to incentivise houesholds to reduce their water use by around 10-15%, according to the water regulator Ofwat. 

Chair of the committee, Neil Parish MP, says: “We need to move beyond a regional approach to water metering, because there is a national need to conserve water. We call on the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) 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. Where this might lead to significant bill increases, metering should be accompanied by strengthened support for vulnerable customers.”

Tony Smith, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, comments: “Ideally we would like customers to have a choice but we support metering as long as it’s handled sensitively, as people recognise that it is the fairest way to pay for the water they use.

“Some customers – particularly larger households – may see their bills rise, so it’s critical for water companies to have the right amount of financial support already in place. We think it makes sense for metering to be phased to spread the cost for all customers.”

However, the CCW recently told Moneywise that some could benefit from water metering, and it could lower costs. Try the council's water meter calculator to see if you could save on your bills by switching voluntarily to a meter.


Water bills are calculated in two ways. Either you have a meter and only pay for what you consume, or your water supplier makes an estimate of how much it thinks you are likely to consume. To do this, it looks at things like the size of your home. 

Andy White, charges expert at the CCW, says: "As a rule of thumb, if your home has more bedrooms than people living in it there's a good chance you may be able to save money."

Conversely, larger households are therefore more likely to see their bills rise if their supplier can force them to have a water meter. 

"Water meters won't benefit everyone, but some people can save more than £100 a year," Mr White adds. 

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I installed one almost 20

I installed one almost 20 years ago at my own expense. I dug out the inspection pit, bought an inspection cover and the meter, had it checked by the local water authority. Total cost around £100 (then) which I recouped three times over in the same financial year. The timing was such that I received my water bill based on the rateable value of the property and came to over £300. Currently pay a standing order of £16 per month. 3 bedroom extended property but sole occupancy. Might help!

I have just got my metered

I have just got my metered bill. It follows a prolonged disagreement about my meter last year and as they have estimated it based on the readings before the meter was repaired it is about four times higher than it should be. Meters are useful if the companies use them. Otherwise we are back in the bad old days of estimated readings and as always they are far too high!

I live in a two person

I live in a two person household. We had a water meter fitted a few years ago. They were compulsory in this area. My water bill more than doubled. It is not true that the smaller households pay less with a meter.

MP s need to but out we are

MP s need to but out we are already paying enough for water

And my e mail is valid

As usual it will be the

As usual it will be the poorer class of people with families who will have to pay more if water meters are fitted.

I moved from a Council tax

I moved from a Council tax band three property without a meter to a band five one with one. The credit I had from about two months left on the first property lasted me about eight months in the new one.

Also water meter is very useful for detecting leaks, something I (and Homeserve) have been having to deal with recently.

The more families that are

The more families that are converted to metering the more profit the water companies make! Why? Because the unit charge for metered customers is extortionately high, even though the annual charge is less than for non-metered customers such for a family of 2, as in retired residents.
The rationale for the high unit charge for water by the water companies is buried in the deliberately maintained high leakages. If the leakage was zero then it would be very difficult for the water companies to charge metered users these high unit charges. They manipulate the so-called average useage levels to appear lower so that each domestic user is alleged to use above the average per person. That way they con the customer into believing that the charges are fair. They are not! The water companies would be forced to reduce the unit charges if the leakage was drastically reduced. And if anyone believes that the unit charge would come down if more money were reinvested into eradicating leakage then they are living in a fool’s paradise. The government agencies that are supposed to look after the consumers’ interests are overpaid half wits that don’t understand why the water authorities are laughing all of the way to the banks as more of their customers are forced to become metered. And it’s going to be really tough for large families!

I'd not be pleased to be

I'd not be pleased to be forced to have a water meter. Reason: I live in an artificially fluoridated area (Coventry) and am sensitive to fluoride. We have a Reverse Osmosis filtration system to remove fluoride and other nasties from our tap water. The filtration system is only efficient if tap water is used to flush out the filters/membrane. This extends the lives of the filters and membrane. The flushing water is approx. 3 litres for every purified litre so, yes, we are wasting water but it's in a good cause - our health. I currently pay a fixed charge based on rateable value. This is about 4-5 times more than I would pay if I had a meter installed and did not have a R/O filtration system. You could say that I am paying a hefty penalty for the right to purify my water and that may be true but I prefer the status quo. I really do not want to have my water rationed which is what metering is. Also, people like me are a special case so it would be wrong to force us to have a meter. It's a bit much expecting us to pay for adulterated water which is rationed. Isn't it bad enough that it's adulterated?

We have had a water meter for

We have had a water meter for nearly 20 years (came with the house). Our bills are less than the alleged average for our household size. When we last had a hosepipe ban our bills went down as we used less so it incentivises the water company to be more efficient and ensure supplies. Does it make me more water aware or use less? No. Our bill is only £29 a month for a bit over 20 cubic metres per month (4 bed house, family of 5) so it's not worth worrying about.

Water meters should be all in

Water meters should be all in all properties, many households have more than 2 adults, there are many with 5 or 6 adults with one water bill which is same if only one lives there. Water should be charged just by amount used without standing charges, pay for what you use. I believe Poll Toll Tax was also the fairest rates system also.