Cost of living crisis: How to reduce your water bill and save money

Watching how much water you run from a tap is one way to save on your bill in the current cost of living crisis
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Energy bills going up. Petrol and diesel going up. Inflation going up. National Insurance going up. The cost of living crisis is set to hit almost every home and increase every household bill, and that means finding ways to save money in as many areas as possible – like water.

A lot of people believe that savings on water are so minimal as to not worth bothering with. After all, you cannot switch supplier to move to a cheaper tariff, so many households just grin and bear it.

Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of ways to save on your water bill. Those not currently on a water meter can potentially save hundreds of pounds by switching to using one.

There are numerous tips and tricks for reducing water usage. And knowing how to fix a leaking pipe or dripping tap rather than ignoring it can offer further savings to households feeling the cost of living crisis.

Switching to a water meter

Water bills are calculated via two ways in the United Kingdom. Before 1990, every household was billed based on what councils assessed their rateable values to be – how much income they could raise if privately rented.

Amongst the factors in deciding this were property size and number of bedrooms. If your home was built before 1973, then that is the last time the rateable was assessed.

If your home was built between 1973 and 1990, then its value would have been calculated upon completion. Any homes built from 1990 onwards have water metres fitted as standard.

With rateable values on their way out, properties will never be reassessed. That means that anyone without a water metre pays a fixed amount based on the rateable value of their home, which may have been decided nearly 50 years ago.

For some, this is a good thing. If you are a household of four or five living in a home modified since it was last assessed in 1973 to include more rooms, then chances are you are paying less for your water bill than your usage.

It is less good news for others. If you are a one or two-person household living in a four bedroom home, then your water usage is likely to be below what your fixed rate is.

You are potentially paying more than you should – not good at the best of times, let alone when there is a cost of living crisis going on.

How do I know if a water meter is right for me?

When it comes to trying to save money on any type of bill – including water – is there a better man to turn to than Martin Lewis?

According to the founder of Money Saving Expert, the general rule of thumb is that if there are the same number or less people living in your home than there are bedrooms, you should consider getting a meter.

If you need help making the decision, then the Consumer Council for Water has a free water meter calculator that will work out how much you could save on your bill.

Should it be clear that the savings from having a meter installed will be huge, then lead on Macduff and get one put in. If savings are likely to be minimal, then it can be best to stick to paying the fixed amount.

That way, you have the certainty of knowing what your water bill will be each and every time and can save accordingly without any nasty surprises.

How to get a water meter installed

Unless you live in Scotland, then it is free to get a water meter installed. The process is normally as simple as filling out an application form on your water supplier’s website.

If you end up changing your mind on a water meter, then you can switch back to paying the fixed rate after 12 months. Some companies even offer up to 24 months grace, should you need a little longer to make the decision.

Once you have a water meter installed or for those already living with one, next comes the challenge of reducing your water usage – the less you use, the more money you save on your bill.

Bin off the bath for a shifty shower

Who doesn’t love sitting in the bath with a load of bubbles and a glass of red wine? We can think of at least one person – your water bill.

The average bath is filled with 80 litres of water. Compare that to an electric shower which gets through five litres per water for every minute it runs.

A shower lasting four minutes uses a quarter of the amount of water of a bath. If you can get a proper shift on and shower in two minutes, then you can use only 10 litres per day. Now that is a serious saving.

Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

No water saving advice article in human history has ever been written without mentioning running the taps whilst brushing your teeth.

There is a reason for this. According to Ofwat, for every minute that a tap runs it uses up to nine litres. With the recommended teeth brushing time being two minutes, turning the tap off whilst you brush for that period can save 18 litres.

Wash your dishes in one go

If you are living a healthy life, then you are eating three square meals a day. And if you wash the dishes after every meal, that means three square washing up sessions a day.

You can save water by filling the sink and doing all the dishes in one wash. Not only that, but it gives you a ready-made excuse to ignore the washing up.

In fact, why not go a couple of days without doing it? Take some time off. All in the name of trying to save on the water bill, of course.

Steam your vegetables rather than boiling them

Speaking of being healthy and talking about food, who knew that Gordon Ramsay was such a water saving expert? That is why he prefers steaming vegetables over boiling them, right?

Boiling uses far more water than steaming. Not only that, but steamed vegetables taste better and contain more nutrients.

The longer that a sprout is boiled, the more nutrients it loses to the water. No such problems when you steam. Steaming is good for your health and good for your water bill.

Load up your washing machine and dishwasher

Much in the same vein as the dishes tip, one obvious way to save water is only use appliances like the washing machine or dishwasher when they have a full load ready to go.

A typical washing machine cycle rattles through 50 litres per run. If you put a half-full load on once every day rather than a full load on every other day, you are wasting up to 150 litres per week.

Likewise the dishwasher. On average, one cycle uses 14 litres. Waiting until the dishwasher is stacked full before using it can help save water and reduce your bill.

Use a water butt to collect rainwater for your garden

One major source of water use is the garden. Keeping a pristine lawn looking like Wembley Stadium or rows of petunias which would be prize winners at Chelsea (the Garden Show, not Stamford Bridge) are jobs that require a lot of water.

If your water source for gardening is straight from the tap, then that is a huge dent in your water bill. Instead, consider installing a water butt in your garden to collect rainwater from your roof via the drainpipe.

Water butts can store around 200 litres. By using water straight from the sky to tend to your grass and flowers, you can avoid taking a serious amount from your taps.

Repair leaking pipes and taps as soon as problems are identified

How many people spot a leaking tap or know that they have a minor leak in a pipe and decide to ignore it, thinking it is not worth the hassle or cost of calling out a plumber?

And with the cost of living crisis, you might not be able to afford a plumber given that on average they charge £50 an hour plus an emergency call out fee.

The good news is that DIY pipe repair has never been easier. Products like a SylWrap Pipe Repair Kit enable anyone to fix a leaking pipe inside 30 minutes just by following a simple set of instructions.

Preventing water which you pay for from being lost to leaks and drips can help save a significant amount from your bill.

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