Metering – get the facts
Around half of households now have a water meter and this number is growing all the time.
Consumers usually see metering as a fairer way of paying for water - everyone pays a set amount for their water services and then you pay for what you use.
- Water meters - your questions answered - Ofwat leaflet for household customers
How much water?
The trend for water use has continued to rise year on year. We each use about 150 litres a day and this is expected to reach 160 litres per person per day before it levels out.
Despite the levels of rainfall we experience, our water supplies need careful management as some areas can easily become 'water stressed'. Managing the resources for all our water needs, with our growing population, and for developing resilience so we are prepared against drought or other extreme weather events, is a significant challenge.
Water metered households tend to use less water overall so metering is a very good way to manage our limited water resources – and to keep consumer bills down.
Metered or unmetered?
In the UK most companies offer a choice of metering or unmetered service. Individual companies help each customer to make the decision about which bill is best for them.
However, in water stressed areas such as south-east England, companies have the option to develop compulsory metering programmes to help them manage water resources and protect the security of our supplies.
The average metered bill is lower than the average non-metered bill – the economic regulator Ofwat publishes these rates each year. This is usually because metered households have fewer people – often families would not be better off.
It is also known that metered households often take greater care to use less water and keep their costs down.
What if I pay more on a meter?
No customer is expected to pay more than unmetered customers and you can usually ‘switch back’ to a non-metered system if you switch and then your bills become higher.
Vulnerable or high-usage consumers with particular needs are dealt with separately to keep their bill at an affordable level, and water companies have advice and support in place for customers who are struggling to meet the cost of their household bills.