Money Wellness
woman washing tomatoes in the sink
category iconbills
category iconcost of living
category icondebts
calendar icon07 Jun 2023

Don’t let water bills rain on your parade

The warmer months usually bring an increase in water bills before they drop again in winter. Not this year though. This winter, bills are expected to stay high as water companies look to cover the cost of tackling the country’s sewage crisis.

Conserving water is now more important than ever before, both for your wallet and the environment. So, we’ve put together ten top tips to help reduce your water usage.

  1. Fix leaks promptly: Leaking taps, toilets, and pipes can waste a lot of water. Check regularly for leaks and repair them immediately to stop unnecessary water loss.
  1. Install water-efficient fixtures. Replace old, inefficient toilets, showerheads, and taps with low-flow or water-saving models. These fixtures use less water without affecting performance.
  2. Take shorter showers. Cutting down your shower time can save a lot of water. Consider setting a limit and using a timer to make sure you stay within it.
  3. Use a water-efficient washing machine and dishwasher. When buying appliances, choose models that have high water-efficiency ratings. Also, run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine to reduce how much water you use.
  4. Collect and reuse water. Use rain barrels to collect rainwater for watering plants or cleaning. Alternatively, you could reuse water used to wash fruit and veg to water your plants.
  5. Reduce the water you use outside. Avoid overwatering your lawn and garden. Water plants during cooler hours to reduce evaporation and use drip irrigation systems or soaker hoses for targeted watering.
  6. Install a smart irrigation system. Smart irrigation systems can adjust watering schedules based on weather conditions, soil moisture levels, and plant needs, preventing unnecessary water waste.
  7. Sweep instead of hosing. Instead of using a hose to clean outdoor areas like driveways and patios, use a broom or a leaf blower.
  8. Get your kids into good habits. Talk to your kids about the importance of using less water. Encourage simple habits like turning off taps while brushing teeth.
  9. Monitor your water bill. Keeping an eye on your water bill can help you spot any unexpected spikes in the amount of water you’re using. This can be useful in detecting leaks, allowing you to take action quickly.

 

If your situation has gone past making savings and you’re in water debt, what can you do?

Water arrears are classed as a non-priority debt because a water company can’t disconnect your supply if you fall behind on your bills. If your water company threatens to disconnect you for being in arrears, complain to the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).

The water company might try to cut off your water supply if you don’t respond to their letters. If you receive a threat to disconnect your water supply, contact the water company. Make sure they understand you’re still in the property and that they can’t disconnect you.

What happens if you rent?

Some landlords include water rates as part of your rent. In these cases, water arrears should be treated as a priority payment (like rent arrears). Try to agree an affordable payment plan with your landlord, otherwise you could end up facing eviction.

Water bill debt

Even though you can’t be disconnected, it’s still important to pay your water bill as it’s an ongoing bill and an essential expense.

If you’re struggling to pay your water bill or have built up arrears, you should contact your water company as soon as possible to try to reach a repayment agreement.

If you pay your water bill monthly, but over less than 12 months, ask your water company to reset your payments over the full 12 months. This will reduce the amount you have to pay each month.

Ofwat’s guidelines state that water companies should ‘agree payments that are right for each customer in debt’ and ‘treat customers facing debt recovery action with care.’ If you believe that your water company is not agreeing to a reasonable proposal, you should make a complaint to Ofwat.

Deduction from benefits

If you’re on income support, pension credit, employment and support allowance, jobseeker’s allowance, or universal credit, you can ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to deduct a sum from your benefit or universal credit payment to cover current water rates and a standard amount towards your arrears. Contact your water company, or the DWP, with details of your most recent water bill to arrange this type of repayment.

Water trusts funds

Many water companies run charitable trust funds that might be able to pay off some or all your arrears. Some only offer help with water and sewage debt, while others are prepared to help with other priority debts and even bankruptcy fees in certain situations.

Eligibility for the trust fund will depend on your situation. You’re more likely to get help if you’re on a low income or benefits, have significant money problems or if you are dealing with a change of circumstances such as unemployment, the death of a partner, relationship breakdown or illness.

The water company will want you to be able to show that you’ve had debt advice before they agree to help. We’ll be happy to help you with that.

 

Social tariffs

Most water companies have social tariffs offering a special rate to people on low incomes or in receipt of certain benefits.

The tariff will vary depending on your supplier, but it’s possible to receive a discount of 50% or more. Contact your supplier to ask about their social tariff scheme. You can find a list of water companies and any social tariffs they offer at www.ccw.org.uk

Some water companies run restart schemes. This involves you making regular payments that are matched by the water company. If you stick to the agreed payment plan, the rest of your debt may be written off.

We can help

If you’re worried about water debt or any other debt, we can help by finding the right solution for you. Get in touch and let us help.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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