Water, Water Everywhere, at a price

There’s a whole lot of water on Earth! Something like 326,000,000,000,000,000,000 gallons (326 million trillion gallons) of the stuff can be found on our planet. This water is in a constant cycle — it evaporates from the ocean, travels through the air, rains down on the land and then flows back to the ocean. The oceans are huge – about 70 per cent of the planet is covered in ocean, and the average depth of the ocean is several thousand feet (about 1,000 meters). Ninety-eight percent of the water on the planet is in the oceans, and therefore is almost unusable for drinking because of the salt.

When looking to let out a property, water, along with other utilities , is a consideration for you – especially if you are letting your property out inclusive of bills.

There are over 20 companies supplying water in England and Wales, whereas both Scotland and Northern Ireland each only have one. Despite the vast array of suppliers. you cannot actually switch your water supplier.

There are two ways that you can be charged for your water supply depending on whether your property is metered or unmetered. If you are worried that you are paying too much for your water bills most households are entitled to have a meter fitted and your water company will not charge you for this – something to be considered if you are residential landlord – as meters generally are considered to be more economic and anything that keeps your costs down is worth investigating. Cheap landlord insurance or low emission light bulbs are other examples of money saving opportunities. If you have a water meter, you’ll only pay for the units of water you actually use and readings are taken from your meter every 6 months. On your metered bill you will usually see the charges under ‘Water supply’ which are charged per cubic metre (220 gallons) of usage. You will also pay a standing charge to cover meter reading and billing services, which is usually a fixed amount each year.

If you do not have a meter you’ll pay a set rate for your water, based on the rateable value of your home in England and Wales, or your council tax band if you live in Scotland. These rates also include a standing charge to cover customer services such as billing. For information about getting a water meter fitted then you need to contact your water company.

The prices we pay for our water supply are regulated by Ofwat. Every 5 years the water companies suggest new prices, and these prices are then reviewed by Ofwat who then decide on a price to suit both the water companies and the consumer,

For example, the last review saw the water companies suggesting a 29% increase but Ofwat decided on an average 18% increase for the next 5 years.

Sadly, there are genuine reasons water rates rise, for instance, to cover the cost of renewing water pipes and treatment plants, to keep the quality of water at a good level and to improve the standard of service received by customers. Rates do differ however between each Water Company and area, typically because of the geographical area which the company covers and the water availability in the vicinity.

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