Student bills

The ultimate guide to water bills

Unless you're set on becoming the world's smelliest (and thirstiest) student, you're going to have to sort your water bills pronto – we've got you covered.
TedinbathYour water bill is one of the easier bills to deal with, and as water's pretty essential to ensure good hygiene and general survival, it should be one of the first things you think of sorting when moving into a new house.

Water is a gift donated to us free of charge by our dear mother earth, so naturally you'll want to make sure you're spending as few of your precious pennies as possible on getting it into your household pipes, right?

You'll also want to use as little water as possible throughout the year in order to cut your costs (and do your bit to save the planet).

We've come up with a simple guide to make sure you get everything tickety boo as soon as possible, as well as a list of money-saving tricks that could genuinely save you £100s.

Still got the rest of your bills to sort out? Check out our ultimate guide to student bills for everything you need to know!

The basics

showerThe most important thing to know about water bills is that each area of the country is covered by only one supplier – you can find out which supplier covers your area here.

This means there is just one available price to pay, with no company offering a better deal than the rest.

There are also two different methods of paying for water: a meter or a standard tariff.

  1. Water meter

    water meterIf your student digs uses a water meter, you'll simply pay for whatever water you use, meaning that if you follow strict rules on water-saving, you could save a LOT of moolah.

    The property will be fitted with a meter (that looks pretty similar to an electricity or gas meter) somewhere either inside the building where a water mains is (under the sink, for instance) or just outside the building near outdoor pipes or where you can see a water mains on the ground.

    The meter will measure how much you use, and your local water supplier will take a reading normally twice a year and charge you accordingly.

    Water companies are normally happy to fit a meter free of charge, so if you do think it would work for you, it might be worth having a chat with your landlord.

  2. Standard tariff

    kitchen-tap-minThe average water bill for homes in England and Wales on a standard tariff works out at £389/year.

    If you're on a standard tariff, you'll get billed a fixed amount depending on the value of your property.

    If you're living in Scotland, your average water bill will be £346. You'll pay a standard water charge that's automatically included in your council tax bill, unless you decide you'd prefer to have a meter fitted instead.

    If you choose to have a water meter installed, you'll need to arrange this with Scottish Water directly and they'll bill you separately from your council tax.

    It's worth knowing that Scottish Water do charge a service and installation fee, meaning unless you think you'll be using much less water than the standard rate, this option won't work out any cheaper.

Setting up your water bill

paying your billsSetting up your bill shouldn't be too hard. After all, there's no competition involved when it comes to prices, so you won't have to spend hours tracking down the best offers like with your gas, electricity and broadband bills.

Here's how to set up paying your water bills in 4 easy steps!

  1. Find your supplier – Once you've sussed out what kind of tariff you're on, all you have to do is find out who your local water supplier is and get in touch. This can either be done online or over the phone, but we'd definitely recommend doing this the first day you move in. If you're unsure who the big player in the water world is where you are, try using this handy map to work out who your supplier is.
  2. On a meter? Check it! – For those paying by meter, make sure you take a reading as soon as you move in. You don't want to be charged for water you didn't use! 
  3. Know your payment dates – If you're paying the standard tariff, you'll probably end up forking out either monthly or quarterly, while for those on a meter it will most probably be every six months (this can vary from supplier to supplier though). You should also always make sure you take a meter reading when you move out – again, so you won't be overcharged. For example, if you're charged every 6 months but only live in the property for 9 then it's up to you to can prove it. It's true that you may initially be charged for the full 6 months as opposed to three, but you will be able to get a full refund.
  4. Make sure everyone's name is on the bill – Make sure you put everyone's name on the bill, even if just one of you is in charge of paying. That way, you'll all be responsible if you fall behind on payments, rather than one person having to take responsibility.For more tips on how to split the bills, read this guide.

Water saving tips

If you're on a meter then you'll have to be careful about your water usage. However, saving water even if you're on the standard tariff can help the planet… yay!

No matter how much you love your hot showers in the morning or your multiple cups of tea throughout the day, no one wants to be paying out shedloads the stuff, or wasting it!

  1. Never boil more than you need

    lotsofkettlesA good old brew does solve everything, but overfilling the kettle doesn't half cause serious wastage.

    Only fill the kettle with just enough water for what you'll actually need – not only will this save water but shedloads of electricity, and not to mention time too!

  2. Increase wash loads

    Washing-NewsCut down on your water consumption by increasing your wash loads.

    This way, you'll only use one washing basin of soapy water for all the dishes or one cold cycle on the machine for all your laundry, rather than two separate washes for lights and darks (and if you're worried about colours running, use one of these lil freebies).

    Even if your washing machine has a half load button, it will still use over half the amount of water used in a full load, so fill it up!

  3. Store cold water in the fridge

    water jugThis probably doesn't cross your mind, but tonnes of water is wasted by waiting just a few seconds for it to run cold.

    Pop a jug or water filter in the fridge to cool beforehand instead, and voila – instant refreshment!

  4. Cut down on shower time

    cut down on shower timeIn theory, a shower should use up less water than a bath, but this doesn't apply if you tend to stand about in the shower until you come out looking like a shriveled up prune.

    A 15 minute shower will use up almost the same amount of water as a bath, and this almost doubles if you're using a power shower.

    So scrub up fast y'all!

  5. Don't use the toilet as a bin

    use the binsCredit: Earth911
    We've probably all been guilty of this at some point, but tissues, face wipes and anything else you care to throw – just don't belong in the toilet.

    Not only are most of these things harmful to the environment if you flush them down, but you'll be wasting shedloads of water every time you hit the flush.

    We're willing to bet you've probably got a perfectly functioning bin anyway? Use it!

  6. Replace worn tap washers

    replace broken tap washersCredit: Sonia Belviso – Flickr
    If your tap is dripping endlessly, ask your landlord to fix it ASAP.

    Not only will the sound of a leaky tap drive you up the wall, but it'll also be wasting an astounding amount of water, which can of course equate to haemorrhaging big bucks.

  7. Turn off the taps

    brush your teethCredit: Ludosphère
    Similarly, whenever you're using water to brush your teeth or wash your face – turn the tap off in intervals when your not needing a water supply.

    Leaving the tap running while you brush is totally pointless and wasteful – cammaaaaaaaan!

  8. Bag water-saving freebies

    water saving showerThis might not seem economical to water suppliers, but a lot of companies will offer you water-saving freebies for you to use in your house (which will mean they make less money off you, but we're guessing being good to the environment is more important sometimes!).

    Examples of these would be extensions for your tap that reduces water flow, shower heads that distribute the flow more efficiently and timers you can keep in your shower so you don't get lost in a hangover daze for 20 mins forgetting to actually wash yourself. We've all been there.

  9. Use a washing basin

    dirty dishesThere is a point to the washing up basin – and believe it or not, it's not just to pile all your dirty dishes in and leave them for days.

    Washing bowls are by nature smaller than the sinks they live in, so are an easy way to use less water.

  10. Reduce your flush

    save water flush toilet lessThe average UK toilet uses 13 litres of water for every single flush. Crazy!

    One way to reduce the amount of water used is to put a brick in your toilet cistern – this will reduce the amount of water in each flush without affecting any of the pressure.

    Otherwise, the simple solution would be of course to flush less!

    The motto “if it's yellow let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down” might instantly make you want to vom, but it could save you cash (although, make sure all flatmates are in agreement before you start implementing this method!).

What do you do to save money on your water bills? Got any awesome tips we've missed? Tell us about them!

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