We're installing water meters for the majority of our customers between now and 2020 as part of our Customer Metering Programme.
We believe metering is a fairer way for our customers to pay for their water - you only pay for what you use. Our metered customers also tend to use up to 15% less water too, saving money on bills and helping to use less water.
Why are you installing water meters?
The south east of England has been classed by the Environment Agency as an area of serious water stress. This means there is real concern over the amount of water available for the increasing population. According to the Met Office, south east England gets 31% less rainfall on average than the rest of the UK.
We have the lowest amount of water available per person and will experience some of the greatest pressures for increasing demand in the future. We are expecting a high population growth and will see some of the greatest impacts on future water availability due to climate change.
Our Customer Metering Programme is an important part of our long term plan to manage water supplies. Your water comes from rivers or deep, natural chambers underground – called aquifers – that help store rainwater. We rely on winter rainfall to keep these rivers and aquifers replenished so it's important to manage this vital resource.
Metering is a cost effective way of managing water — for you and us. Customers with a water meter tend to use around 15% less water than those without. That's because when you are paying for every drop used, you make every drop count.
For us, it means we can delay introducing more expensive solutions to provide the water needed now and in the future - keeping your bills as low as possible. Our metering programme is supported by Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat and the Energy Savings Trust.
How are the charges calculated?
Metered bills are issued twice a year based on the readings we take from your meter. Occasionally, we may not be able to take a reading, in which case we'll send an estimated bill based on your previous consumption.
The charges come in two parts – a standing charge and the charge for the actual water you use.
To find out what the charges are in your area, click here.
Will I save money on my bills?
Customers who change to a water meter typically use less water than they did previously, but every household is different and only you will know how often you use your washing machine and how many baths you run. There's lots of simple ways to use less water and you can get free water saving devices after your water meter is fitted. We have an online calculator to help you estimate the water use in your home to see whether your metered charges would be lower than your current unmetered charges. Click on the link below to get started.
Where will my water meter be fitted?
The standard location for a water meter is in the pavement outside your property. When reading an external water meter, our staff don't normally need to enter your home, but they may need access to your garden or grounds. If we're not able to install the water meter there, we'll look for an alternative location which will usually be inside the property, immediately after the internal stop tap.
What if you can't fit a water meter at my property?
We're not always able to fit a water meter in every home. Common reasons include complex pipework or the lack of a suitable location.
If this is the case, we'll offer you the option of paying an Assessed Charge instead. Assessed Charges are annual sums which reflect the estimated amount of water used, based on the number of bedrooms and the number of people living in the property.
Do I have to have a water meter?
In short, yes. The decision to start our compulsory water metering programme was taken because the Environment Agency classed the south east of England as a ‘water stressed’ area. Its findings were based on anticipated population growth and the effects of climate change which indicated less rainfall for the region.
As a result, we needed to find ways to make the most of our limited resources and research showed customers with a water meter were more aware of how much water they used – or wasted.
Will my water meter be a Smart meter?
We only fit Elster V210 water meters. These are not like the Smart meters used by gas and electricity companies because they only collect water use data.
The meters are fitted with an automatic meter reading (AMR) function. This allows our water meter readers to collect the data needed without having to read the meter dial. They do this by using a handheld unit which receives a radio signal from the radio module on the water meter.
Our water meters are normally located outside properties at the boundary of the street. The radio modules do not emit a signal continuously or even at frequent intervals. The radio module is idle for most of the time and only transmits for a few seconds when the water meter is being read. This typically occurs once every six months. The radio module used is very low powered at 25 milliwatts and the signal rapidly decreases with the distance travelled. The average mobile phone emits two watts, which is 80 times more than the radio modules of the water meters.