How much is the average water bill per month?
13 June 2021
If your parents ever told you off when you were younger for asking them to buy you drink, when you can pour yourself a free glass of water - they weren’t technically right! Water will cost you, according to Water UK average annual combined water and sewage is £408 a year, or £34 a month in 2021/22. This is made up of an average of £194 for the water bill and £204 for the sewage bill.
Obviously, the amount you pay will vary depending on where you live. For example, if you’re in the South West of England, you’ll pay £75 more on average, whilst if you are in the North West, you’ll pay £80 less than average.
Water companies charge in two different ways. The first is unmetered and calculates a set rate that is decided upon by your home’s ‘rateable’ value. The second method is metered, where you are billed for the amount of water you use. If your water bill is unmetered and you feel the bills are too high, you can ask your supplier to change to a metered bill.
Your water usage may not actually have much of a link with your water bill. That’s certainly the case if you don’t have a water meter. In this instance, your bill will be made up of a fixed charge and a charge based on the rateable value of your home.
The rateable value is based on your local authority’s assessment of the rental value of your home. What is annoying is that this rating took place between 1973 and 1990 - so it’s hardly up to date, and you can’t even appeal if you think the rateable value is too high either.
So to sum up - what you pay is out of your hands, has nothing to do with how much water you’re actually using, and is based on how much your house was worth in 1990.
The silver lining here is that if you do use a load of water, you should get your money's worth.
Average water bill per month by family size or number of occupants
Assuming you’re on a water meter and have a large family, the household water use varies enormously depending on the number of people in a house and their personal needs.
According to Waterwise, for the year April 2019 – March 2020, the average amount of water usage in cubic meters in, a home of:
one person - 66 (per year)
two people - 110
three people - 136
four people - 165
five people - 182
six people - 200.
The amount of money this will cost will differ based on the area you live and the water company your area is served by.
That said, if you take Southern Water (Opens in a new window) as an example, and using water AND wastewater as a standardOpens in a new window as follows:
one person - £286 per year and £23 per month
two people - £401 per year and £33 per month
three people - £516 per year and £43 per month
four people - £597 per year and £49 per month
five people - £663 per year and £55 per month
six people - £728 per year and £60 per month.
Average water bill per month by house size (number of rooms)
The size of your property can have a big influence on the cost of your monthly bills, including your water one. If you don’t have a meter, the more people who live in a house, generally, the more water that will be used.
This is because of the people in it, using the water rather than the amount of rooms.
If you aren’t on a water meter and your bills are fixed depending on your property’s size, it doesn’t matter if you’re the only one living in a 10 bedroom house, your water bill will be exactly the same as your neighbour that has 10 people living in it - even if they are using 10x the water you do.
So the amount of rooms you have will matter if you are on a fixed tariff, because it is likely that the amount of rooms will determine how much your house is worth.
Because of this, it’s next to impossible to put an average price based on rooms but we can take just one example, Thames Water (Opens in a new window) (2020/21), for an idea of the pricesOpens in a new window as follows:
studio/one bedroom - £300.82 per year or £25.07 per month
two bedrooms - £319.20 per year or £26.60 per month
three bedrooms - £353.44 or £29.45 per month
four bedrooms - £380.07 or £31.72 per month
five or more - £417.07 or £34.75 per month.
How can I cut my water bill?
There are a number of ways that you can cut down on your water and save money on your water bill.
Installing a water meter
If you live on your own or you don’t use a lot of water as a household, you might want to switch to a metered bill. This means your bill will be made up of a fixed charge AND a volumetric charge, covering your exact use. How much you pay will really depend on how much water you use.
It’s worth trying out your water provider’s water meter calculator so see if you could cut down your bills. You can find your water provider on the Water UK websiteOpens in a new window, and don’t worry if it’s not working out for you because switching to a water meter doesn’t have to be a permanent move. You can switch back to unmetered bills within the first 12 months.
Getting additional help from your water supplier
Since 1996, Ofwat (Opens in a new window) states that water companies have had a dutyOpens in a new window to promote the efficient use of water by all their customers.
If you would like to find out more, contact your water supplier for further information on how you can save water.
For those with a water meter, some water companies even offer free home visits to talk about your water usage. They can help you reduce your use and may even fit water saving devices in your home. These could include tap inserts, water efficient showerheads, and toilet dual flush converters.
What can I do if I am struggling to pay my water bill?
If you’re on a low income and struggling to pay, you should get in touch with your water company to see what help is available.
Some of the ways that they can help is by offering:
flexible payment methods
social tariffs which are special discounts for people on low income or receiving a specific benefit.
Each water company has its own support scheme and some also run or work with charities to provide additional help.
WaterSure is one such scheme. It offers certain eligible people with help towards their water bills if their household has a high essential use of water.
Usually there is specific criteria that will need to be met including:
being on a water meter, having applied, or waiting for one to be installed
being on certain benefits
having someone in the household that has a medical condition where they need to use a lot of water
the household has three or more children under 19, an in full-time education living there.