WATER bills landing on doormats across England and Wales over the next few weeks will be a further blow to householders already struggling with rocketing energy costs.
The average water bill will be 5.5% (£15) higher, but unlucky South West Water customers will have to pay an extra 9.4%, while homes served by Dee Valley Water will see no increase at all.
From 1 April, a typical bill will be £294, compared to £279 last year. The rises have been approved by the regulator, Ofwat, to pay for major works and more rises are in the pipeline for the next three years.
The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), which represents consumers in England and Wales, says if you have difficulty paying for water, you may be eligible for the vulnerable customer tariff. This assists metered customers receiving certain state benefits who have a large family or a medical condition requiring extra water usage.
CCWater has published a list of fast fixes, which it says will save money as well as helping to conserve water resources.
1. Fit a Save-a-Flush device (you may see it called a ‘hippo’ or even a ‘bog hog’) and you could save a litre each time you flush;
2. Wasted water equals wasted money – a dripping tap losing one drop a second will waste 15 litres of water (3 buckets’ full) a day.
3. Save water when washing – take a shower rather than a bath, or why not bath with a friend?
4. Don’t leave the tap running when brushing your teeth
5. Use the plug in the washbasin when shaving.
6. Save water in the kitchen – use a bowl instead of leaving the tap on when washing up.
7. Boil only the amount of water you need in the kettle when you fancy a cuppa.
8. Don’t use dishwashers or washing machines when they are only half full.
9. Save water in the garden – collect rainwater in a water butt, and give plants a summer soaking once a week rather than watering daily.
10. You’ll only benefit from using less water if you have a meter installed, which is free of charge.
Figures published by South East Water show what a difference a change of habits can make: A bath uses 80 litres of water while a shower uses just 30; brushing teeth with the tap running uses 10 litres, which is more than flushing the toilet (9 litres).
A dishwasher uses 35 litres, but if you are prepared to do the job by hand you’ll use only 6 litres. A typical washing machine uses 80 litres, but modern water-efficient models need 25 litres less to clean your clothes.
Most shocking of all is the amount you use watering the garden – 450 litres in just one hour.
For free advice from the Consumer Council for Water call 0845 039 2837, or visit the website www.ccwater.org.uk.