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A water meter is a device used to measure the volume of water usage. This
article provides an overview of technical aspects of water meters. The worldwide
prevalence of metering as well as its economic benefits and costs are covered in
the separate article on water metering.
In many developed countries, water meters are used at each residential and commercial building in a public water supply system. Water meters can also be used at the water source, well, or throughout a water system to determine flow through that portion of the system. Water meters typically measure and display total usage in cubic feet, cubic meters or US gallons on a mechanical or electronic register.
There are several types of water meter in common use. Selection is based on different flow measurement methods, the type of end user, the required flow rates, and accuracy requirements.
What is a water meter?
A water meter is a device that records the amount of water being used in your home for billing purposes, similar to your gas and electricity metering. Your water company checks your water meter to calculate how much to charge you.
Should I get a water meter?
If you have a water meter fitted your charges would be based on the amount of water you use, rather than being a fixed amount each year based on the rateable value (RV) of your property.
Any savings depend on how much you pay now and how much water you use.
Will I have to pay to get a water meter installed?
Most homes can have a meter installed free of charge. The only exception would be when it is unreasonably expensive or impractical for the water company to install a meter. In these circumstances the customer would need to pay for the installation of the water meter (although the meter itself would be free). If a water meter cannot be fitted then the customer can be put on assessed charges.
Compulsory metering can also occur in areas designated by the Secretary of State as 'water scarce', in which case the water company can if it is necessary, install meters in all households.
Who can't switch to a water meter?
Most households in England, Wales and Scotland are entitled to a free meter from their water company on request. However, there are circumstances when a water company can refuse to install a meter if it is unreasonably impractical or expensive to do so - if shared water supply pipes need to be separated, for example.
In situations like this, if the customer is willing to pay for the necessary work then the water utilities company may still install the meter free of charge.
If it is impossible to have a meter installed, then your water company should offer you an 'assessed charge', where you pay a bill based on an estimate of your water supply usage or what other metered customers in your area pay for their water utilities. You could also carry on paying an unmeasured bill based on the RV of your property.
I rent my property - can I still switch to a water meter?
If you are renting your property for longer than six months then you are entitled to have a water meter installed in the property. Please note if you rent a property that already has a meter installed then you will have to pay a metered charge. You will not be able to switch back to unmeasured water billing.
Is a meter cheaper than a fixed charge?
The cheapest way of paying for your water and sewerage bill will depend on the area you live in and your water usage. Customers with a high RV, but low water usage, for example, would benefit most from switching to a meter. Ofwat has calculated that the average unmetered customer who switches saves an average 5-10% on their bill after installation of a meter.
Start using a meter, how you can reduce your water consumption and save money.
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