Metered customers and applying for metered charges

Metered charges

If you have a water meter installed on your property, you are almost certainly a metered customer. This means your water and wastewater bill depends on how much water you use.

Your metered bill will usually be made up of a standing charge and a volumetric charge for your water and wastewater services. The standing charge is a fixed annual fee. The volumetric charge is based on how much water you use.


Instead of being charged a flat rate (usually based on the rateable value of your property), you can choose to be charged according to the amount of water you use by having a water meter installed.

You may be able to save money on your bill by switching to a water meter. Having a meter installed will also allow you to see the effect of actions you take to use less water, which benefits the environment and helps address water scarcity. Household customers in England and Wales can choose to have a meter fitted in their homes free of charge.

You may save money if you switch to a water meter. This depends on:

  • how much you pay now
  • the number of people living in the property
  • how much water you use

Our leaflet, Water meters- your questions answered provides information for household customers about metering.

If you want to find out more about meters, you can contact your water company for advice. Some company websites have online calculators to help you decide whether you will save money by switching to a water meter. You can also find a calculator on the Consumer Council for Water website.

Meter reading

If you have a water meter, it should be read at least once a year, and read by your water company at least once every two years. Some water companies might read your meter more frequently. Often the water meter is installed so that your company can read the meter remotely.

Other water bills are usually based on an estimated reading. You can sometimes read the meter yourself, and you may be able to update the estimated reading. Your water company can explain how to read your meter.

You should contact your water company for more information.

Meter installation

To get a meter installed, there is a simple process to follow.

  • Contact your company to find out the savings you may make by having a meter.
  • If you can make savings, ask for an application form for a meter.
  • Fill in the application form and return it to your company. You can usually do this by post, over the phone or online.
  • Subject to a survey, the company will fit the meter within three months of receiving your application.
  • You should receive your first water bill within six months of the meter being installed.

In some cases, the company is not able to fit a meter. In this case, they should then offer you an assessed charge.

How quickly will the company fit a meter?

Your water company should install the meter within three months of your request.

If it does not do this, the company should offer to adjust your bill to reflect the charges you would have paid if you had been on a meter.

Where will the meter be installed?

Water meters are normally installed:

  • outside your home (under a small metal or plastic cover in your driveway, garden or nearby footpath)
  • in a small wall-mounted box on the side of your property
  • or inside your property (normally where the water supply pipe enters your home, usually under the kitchen sink)

The company will choose where to put the meter. You can ask for it to be installed in a different place, but you may be required to pay the difference in costs.

If you have special requirements because of age, illness or disability, the company may fit the meter free of charge in a location that is easy for you to access.

What if a meter can’t be installed?

It may not be possible for your company to install a meter at your property. This may be because:

  • there is more than one supply of water to the property
  • your property is on a shared supply
  • the pipework inside your property is inaccessible, obstructed or in poor condition
  • the company is not able to find a suitable place to fit the meter internally or externally
  • you live in a flat and have access to communal facilities or a shared hot water supply

If your company says that it cannot fit a meter at your property, it should explain why it is impractical or too expensive to do so. If you disagree with your company’s decision not to install a meter, then the Consumer Council for Water may be able to resolve your complaint quickly on an informal basis. If they are not successful then they will consider referring the complaint to us for formal resolution. Once we start a formal investigation of the dispute, both you and your company must follow our decision. Find out more about complaints we handle.

Your company should also offer you the option to switch to an assessed charge. This is an estimate of what your metered bill might have been had a meter been installed.

You will need to compare the assessed charge with your current bill to decide if you will save money. Your company will be able to give you more information.

Leakage allowance

If your metered bill is higher than usual, it could mean a leak on the underground supply pipe into your property.  Your company should be able to help you detect whether you have a leak and arrange repairs.

Companies are required by their licences to reimburse the cost of water lost though leakage by way of credits to your water bill – this is called a leakage allowance and can apply to water supply charges and to wastewater charges.  You can only claim this allowance once the leak has been repaired. Your company can refuse leakage allowances in some circumstances, for example if you have not arranged for the repair of the leak within any reasonable timeframe specified by the company, or where the leak was caused by your own negligence.

Each company must clearly explain how they address leakage from household supply pipes. This should include information about leakage allowances, how to claim them, how they are applied to your bill and when they can be refused.

Wastewater charges

In your bill, your water company will include charges for three main wastewater services. These are for collecting and treating:

If you can demonstrate that you do not have surface water drainage you may be entitled to a reduction and / or a rebate to your sewerage bill.

Foul sewage

Your bill will include a charge for collecting and treating foul sewage.

Your company will usually base its foul sewage service charges on the volume of water recorded on your water meter.

Your company will apply an assumption about the amount of water customers use that does not return to the sewer (the ‘non-return to sewer’ allowance).