How your water bills will change in 2019

Ned Browne

Property expert Ned Browne offers the low down on how your water costs will change in the coming year…

In 2018, the average household in England and Wales will pay an average of £405 for their water and sewerage. This represents a 2% rise from 2017. In real terms this is a price reduction, given that inflation is running at over 2.5%. Indeed, Ofwat and the water companies agreed a five-year plan in 2014 that would see water bills fall in real terms by 5% between 2015 and 2020. But this will come as little comfort to many whose household budgets are already stretched. Expect a nominal price rise of between 5 and 10% over that time period.

Water bills represented approximately 1.5% of average household disposable income; for the poorest 10% that rises to over 4%. And, while water bill rises have been modest in recent years, they have still risen by 40% in real terms since privatisation in 1989, when the then government took over the sector’s £4.9bn debt pile, leaving the new private owners debt free.

 

Winners and losers

As the UK population continues to rise, demand for this finite resource will become increasingly hard to slake. The government knows this. And so do the water companies. They now have the right to install water meters in any area of “serious water stress.”

It would seem that a large proportion of households live in such areas. According to Water UK, about half of homes now have a water meter, and more are being installed every day.

Given this, there will be winners and losers. Single occupancy households without gardens are likely to be the biggest winners. Conversely, large families with a penchant for sprinklers will lose the most. Metering does, in fairness, seem to work. Customers with water meters tend to use around 15% less water.

 

Save water (and money)

If your water is metered, here’s how you can reduce your bills:

Have a bath for two.

A standard bath holds 80 litres of water; a normal shower uses 62 litres of water in eight minutes. If you’re happy to share your bath water, you’ll save money. That’s definitely the case if you have a power shower, which will dispense 136 litres of water in eight minutes.

Change your showerhead.

Water-efficient showerheads force air into the water stream through a small hole. The water and air then mix in the showerhead, resulting in the power of conventional shower, whilst minimising water usage. Eco Camel sell a range of shower heads available for all shower types. 

Top tip: some water companies, such as Thames Water, offer free water saving devices.

Water-efficient appliances.

If you’re planning on changing your washing machine or dishwasher, look for the Waterwise checkmark, which will rate the appliance for water consumption. (Don’t forget to check the energy rating too.) And make sure they’re always full before you turn them on, using the eco setting (obviously).

Fit tap aerators.

These can be fitted to, for example, kitchen taps. If you tend to fill the sink when you’re washing up these are of limited use. But, if you keep the tap flowing, they’ll reduce your water consumption.

Turn the tap off.

People who leave the tap on when brushing their teeth waste six litres of water a minute. Ouch!

Fix that dripping tap.

Or waste 5,500 litres of water a year. It’s surprisingly easy to change the rubber washers in a tap. YouTube is awash with videos that will show you how.

 

Water is precious

All the measures mentioned above will reduce your bills. But, there’s also a moral obligation to save water. Especially when you realise two billion people still don’t have access to clean water. Our problems are, indeed, first-world problems.