Many of us will be looking to tighten the purse strings at this time of year, and the good news is, smaller households may be able to save money by moving to a water meter.
But how exactly do these meters work, and what else can you do to reduce the amount you spend on your water bill?
How does a water meter work?
With a water meter, the major benefit is the fact you only pay for the water you use.
You can get a water meter installed free of charge, and may be able to save more than £100 a year on bills.
There is also the option to switch back to your original unmeasured charges within the first year if you change your mind.
As a rule of thumb, a water meter could be more effective if there are more bedrooms than people in your household. This could be, for example, if you are two people living in a four-bed family home.
By contrast, for larger families, being on a water meter may not be cost-effective as the household water consumption may be high.
Make use of the tools available
There is a useful calculator on the Consumer Council for Water website which you can use to find out whether you would save money by switching to a water meter.
Tips to help you save money on your water bills
Here are some more simple ways to keep a lid on water bills:
Fix leaky taps
A dripping hot water tap wastes energy and, over a year, could add more than £18 to your annual water bill. Check your taps and replace any worn washers.
Shorten your shower
For every minute less you spend under your daily shower, you could shave between £5 and £10 off your annual energy bill.
Install a water-efficient shower head
While a long, hot shower is hard to resist, it is not conducive to saving water or energy.
A good way to save money is by fitting a water-efficient shower head which uses less water than a normal shower.
Share your bathwater
If you are set on having a bath, consider sharing the water with your other half, or re-use the water to water plants.
Turn the taps off
Get into the habit of turning the taps off when brushing your teeth.
Get a “hippo”
By installing a “hippo” or other water-saving device in the toilet you can save water each time you flush.
Wash up in a bowl
Try washing up in a bowl, rather than keep the hot tap running; you’ll be surprised at how much less water you use.
Fill the dishwasher or washing machine
Make sure that the dishwasher or washing machine is completely full before turning it on.
Collect rainwater in a water butt and then use this to wash your car or water your garden. You can even use this to flush your toilet.
Watchdog calling on water companies to do more
At the beginning of February, the Consumer Council for Water called on water companies to do more to support customers struggling to pay their bills.
The watchdog made the calls on the day that Water UK revealed the average water and sewerage bill in England and Wales will rise by £2 to £389 in 2016-17.
While this is an increase of less than 1%, it is still an increase.
With this in mind, it is well worth taking all the steps you can to keep water bills to a minimum.
Help with bills
Apply for a social tariff
Most water companies in England and Wales now offer reduced “social tariffs” for customers on lower incomes. To find out if you’re likely to qualify for help – and how to apply – visit ccwater.org.uk.
Look into WaterSure
If you’re already on a water meter, but have high usage needs due to a large family or medical condition – and you also receive income-related benefits – the WaterSure scheme can help.