We do take this utility for granted – it’s a cost you expect to pay and yet who knows how it’s charged or what options you have to manage these costs? If you’re unsure whether you’re getting billed correctly, take the following steps to make sure you’re optimally set up:

1) Do you have a water meter? A lot of people aren’t aware that they can even get a water meter, but yes this does exist, and requesting one from your water company is standard. Your local water company can send an engineer round on the date you agree with them to do an assessment of your property and the water supply. They’ll either be able to fit a water meter or they won’t – much depends on the way water is supplied to your property. If they can’t, then they usually let you know on the day and you can request that they ensure that you are being billed for the appropriate amount for your property based on the number of residents.

2) It’s helpful to know whether you have a water meter or not. The reason being that if you have a water leak and you have a water meter, your bills could go through the roof. Water leaks can be invisible to the eye – there could be a leak in the piping or in the cistern of a toilet – you may not realise. What you will see is your bills increase substantially over the course of a month or two. And you need to pay attention to this and call the water company to confirm these charges. They may send an engineer round to investigate the leak or advise that the landlord get a plumber round to fix the issue. What’s important is that you see to it asap as, if left, your water bills can spiral out of control. Whatever you do, nip the leak in the bud as soon as you can.

3) You can find out the average price of water bills for your region on the Discover Water website: https://www.discoverwater.co.uk/annual-bill – this is helpful for making sure your bills are in line with the region. And if they aren’t you can query this with your local water company.

4) If your home is an un-metered property, then your water company will charge you based on a standing charge and the billable rate. The fixed (‘standing)’) charge, covers things like billing and customer service, while the rateable value means that a local authority assessment of the annual rental value of an individual property was carried out in 1973 and 1990. This means that if your property was built since 1990, it should have a water meter installed.

Also published on Medium.