Water rates increase as hosepipe ban kicks in
Filed under: Utilities
Cut your bills
The water-related story that has garnered the most attention thus far has been the hosepipe ban, which will hit 20 million people across southern and eastern England.
Southern Water, Thames, Veolia Central, Veolia South East, Anglian and Sutton and East Surrey are all introducing restrictions. The rules ban using a hosepipe to water your garden and plants, fill a domestic pool, fountain or pond that does not have fish or clean outdoor surfaces.
Cut your bills
Anyone found breaking the ban faces fines of up to £1,000. Disabled people with blue badges are exempt.
While the hosepipe ban has hit the headlines, what many households may not know about are the price water price rises that also came in this month. And that's despite the hikes affecting more households than the ban.
The average water and sewerage bill in England and Wales is forecasted to rise by 5.7% - around £20 a year – following the April 1 increases. This above inflation increase will take the average bill to £376 in 2012/13.
Southern Water is bringing in the largest increases – set at an average of 8.2%. The company serves nearly two million households across Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Thames Water customers will also see large hikes, at an average of 6.7%.
The smallest increases will be seen in Wales. Welsh Water is only pushing up prices by an average of 3.8%.
Rate hike levels were laid out by the regulator Ofwat in 2009 and will see price rises stay broadly in line with inflation until 2015 and around 10% lower than the increases asked for by water companies. Ofwat says that it will make sure customers get value for money and that the rate rises will go towards substantial investment in the country's water infrastructure.
Rising water rates, along with the hosepipe ban-triggering drought, has caused many to consider taking out a water meter. Only a third of households currently use water meters. Most pay a set monthly fee depending on the property. Flat fees work out well for large households, but if you live alone or have more bedrooms than occupants, a water meter could slash your bill by allowing you to only pay for what you use. You can calculate your water usage and tot up any available savings by heading to the Ofwat website.
Switching to a water meter is free; just phone up your local water authority to arrange an installation date.
Ways to save
If you do go down the meter route, slashing your water usage – and hence your bills – should be a priority. Indeed, in the current dry climate everyone should really be doing their bit to reduce the amount of water they use.
Here are a few pointers...
Turn it off: The biggie - switching the tap off when brushing your teeth! Also, try and use one bowl of water when washing fruit and vegetables, instead of keeping the tap running.
Shower saving: Showers use far less water than baths. Getting hold of an economical showerhead will help you save even further. Several water companies will even send you free water-saving devices. Thames Water has free showerheads, tap devices, water gels for pot plants and even bumper stickers ready to order from their site.
White goods: Only put your washing machine and dishwasher on when you have a full load. And when you need to replace your white goods, try and get hold of an energy-efficient model.
Get a hippo: Hippo is a bag that sits inside the cistern of your toilet and can save up to three litres of water every flush. Take a look at the Hippo website for more details. But before you buy one, put in a call to your water company, as they may send you one for free.
Fix leaks: Dripping taps and leaky pipes will literally send your money straight down the drain. So get them fixed!
Surface water drainage rebate: Part of your total water bill is for the removal of surface water from properties via the sewers. If you can prove that no surface water enters the public sewer from your property then you'll get a rebate.
Boiler etiquette: A top tip suggested by lovemoney.com reader LINLEYSHAW. If you use a combi boiler, try not to keep the shower on when waiting for the water to heat up. Instead, briefly turn the hot tap on until the boiler fires up and then switch the shower on.