The worst of it may be over but many households across the country are still suffering from the recent extreme weather conditions.
After a significant rise in the number of call-outs for burst water pipes Thames Water, South East Water, Southern Water and Affinity Water are today urging those who still have water in the South East of England and London to use it sparingly.
There are certain things you can do to reduce your water usage. But, even if you do manage to cut down your water usage, what difference will this have on your overall water bills?
Some water providers offer a host of money-saving gadgets, you just need to ask for them
In April water bills are due to rise by 2.3 per cent on average bringing the cost of a typical bill to £395.
Unlike with other utility companies, such as energy and broadband, when it comes to water it isn’t possible to switch water companies to get a better deal.
But even though you can’t switch, there are ways to save money and we’ve picked out five tips to help you reduce your bills. If you know of any others, please tell us in the comments box below.
Water firms hand out free water-saving devices (you just need to ask)
There are a wide-range of freebies on offer from the water companies, which should help you cut back on the water you use and possibly reduce your bills too.
The website Save Water Save Money lists all the freebies on offer and if you enter your postcode it can list those you are eligible for and arrange for these to be sent out.
The freebies on offer include: a flowpoint round shower head or a shower regulator, both of which regulate the amount of water used to eight litres per minute compared to the average 15 litres per minute; a four-minute shower timer; a cistern bag designed to save 1.2 litres of water with every flush; and tap regulators, which regulate water to five litres per minute compared to the average 10 litres per minute.
Rising bills: In April water bills are due to rise by 2.3 per cent to an average of £395 per year
What you can apply for will depend on your supplier and the potential savings for using just one of these devices could be significant.
For example, according to the Energy Saving Trust, if a family of four replaced an inefficient shower head with a water efficient one, they could knock around £75 off their gas bills and around £120 off their water bills (if they have a water meter) each year.
Swap baths for showers and turn off taps when brushing your teeth
There are lots of easy ways to cut down the amount of water you use, which will save you money on your water bills (if you have a water meter) and your heating bills.
A few easy examples include swapping baths for short showers on occasion, turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving and using a washing up bowl.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, if a family of four each switched one bath a week with a five-minute shower, they could cut around £25 per year on their annual gas bills, and £15 per year off their water bills (with a water meter).
Leaving a tap to run when you’re not using it, such as when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving, wastes more than six litres per minute so turn it off if you’re not using it, and if you can use cold rather than hot water.
Washing up with a washing-up bowl twice a day, instead of washing with the hot tap running constantly, could save you £25 a year on your gas bill and £30 on your water bill.
If your water is cut off temporarily, you may be able to claim compensation
Water companies are required to provide a constant supply of water, but at times this can be interrupted.
Often it’s the case that repairs or burst pipes mean your water supply is cut off and the amount of money that you can claim depends on the reason for the supply being cut off and the length of time.
If it’s a planned interruption and lasts for more than four hours, the provider must give 48 hours written notice and must restore your water supply in the time stated.
You could save money by switching from baths to short showers – and an efficient shower head will save you even more
If you weren’t notified you should be able to claim £20 in compensation and if the water isn’t turned back on in the given time, you should be entitled to a further £20. Then if the money isn’t paid within 20 working days, a further £20 should be paid.
If the water has been cut off in an emergency, the water company must restore the service within 12 hours of becoming aware of the problem. It also needs to take reasonable steps to let you know of alternative water supplies, when it plans to restore the supply, and a telephone number for more information.
If the water isn’t back on by the time the company has told you it will be, you should be able to claim £20 for the first 24 hours and £10 for each further 24-hour period.
There is, however, a caveat with claiming as in some cases, such as after extreme weather conditions or industrial action by the firm, you may not be eligible.
For full details on your firm’s rules, check the Ofwat website.
Using a water meter means you only pay for what you use
If you have a water meter you only pay for the water you use instead of paying a set amount depending on the size of your property.
Without one you will pay a blanket charge, no matter how much water you actually use, and this is based on the rateable value of your home if you live in England or Wales. If you live in Scotland the amount you pay is based on your Council Tax band and there is no charge for households in Northern Ireland.
With a meter your water firm will take readings and charge you for the units of water you use.
To find out if having a water meter could save you money, check with a free water meter calculator or ask your water company as it will base its calculations on regional prices and may be more accurate.
A water meter won’t save everyone money so if you do have one fitted, and decide it isn’t right for you, you can get it removed for free within two years.
You may be able to claim compensation from your provider if the water’s cut off temporarily
You may be entitled to help if you’re receiving certain benefits
Almost all water companies have a cheaper tariff available to consumers receiving certain benefits and those with a water meter. If this applies to you contact your water company and ask what it offers.
The benefits include; child tax credit (more than just the family element), housing benefit, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, pension credit, working tax credit or universal credit.
You may also be able to access one of these tariffs if you suffer from or receive treatment for certain medical conditions that require you to have access to higher supplies of water including Crohn’s disease, abdominal stoma or Eczema.