As various suppliers announce price cuts from 2020, we look at what the average water bill in the UK currently costs and explain how you can do to reduce yours today.
Average UK water bills are rising, but a number of suppliers have pledged to buck that trend and cut prices in the coming years.
With water companies required to map out their business plans every five years, we can now see what many households can expect to pay between 2020 and 2025.
Yes, it's a long way off, but the good news is some households will see their bills fall by up to £45 a year in real terms (ie once you've accounted for inflation) over that period.
South West Water is leading the way, promising average water bills will be cut by 11%, while United Utilities will reduce charges by 10.5% and those served by Severn Trent will see bills fall by 5%.
Not everyone is set to benefit, however. The UK's largest supplier, Thames Water, says bills will effectively remain flat while Anglian Water is set to hike bills, albeit by less than 1%.
Those served by Hafren Dyfrdwy Cyfyngedig are facing even stiffer hikes of 2.2% over the five-year period.
So that's the long-term view from some of the major players, now let's take a look at what's happening to prices in the here and now.
Average UK water bills are still rising
The average water bill for England and Wales is set to rise by 2%, or £9, for the 2018/2019 year.
Water UK, which represents and works with the major water and sewerage service providers, says this will mean households will pay £405 a year on average.
Obviously, the amount you pay will vary from region to region.
For example, households in the North West of England (which are served by United Utilities) will pay £18 more on average, while South West Water customers in Cornwall will actually save £14.
Check the table below for the average water bill where you live.
How is the average water bill calculated?
Your water usage may not actually have much correlation with your water bill.
That’s certainly the case if you don’t have a water meter. In this instance, your bill will be made up of a fixed charge (which covers things like admin) and a charge based on the ‘rateable value’ of your home.
This is the local authority’s assessment of the rental value of your property.
Unfortunately, this rating took place between 1973 and 1990, so it’s not exactly up to date.
You can’t appeal if you think the rateable value is too high either. Your bill is out of your hands and completely unrelated to your actual water use. Good news if you use a lot of it, not so good if you don’t.
In which case, you might want to switch to a metered bill. This means your bill will be made up of a fixed charge and a volumetric charge, covering your exact use. Whether this means your bill goes down or up really is then down to you.
To see if a water meter might save you some cash, try your provider's water meter calculator.
Switching to a water meter doesn’t have to be a permanent move either. You can switch back to unmetered bills within the first 12 months, so why not give it a try? If your bills go up, just switch back!
Can I cut my water bill?
If you are on a water meter, then there are things you can do to reduce your bills.
Simple steps like taking a shower rather than a bath, turning off the tap when brushing your teeth and fixing leaky taps can all make a difference.
Most water companies offer widgets and gadgets to help you cut your water use. Many are free too so be sure to check out your provider’s site.
You could further cut your bill by taking out a reward current account, which pays cashback on a range of household bills, including water bills. Read the best current accounts for rewards and cashback for more.
But if you really want to make a massive difference to your finances, take our money challenge to see if you could save £16,000 in a single year!
This article has been updated
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