When you move into private rented accommodation, you may have to deal with water bills for the first time in your life. You may find that your water bill is included within the cost of your rent, or you may have to deal directly with your water supplier.
Unlike energy (gas and electricity), water is still provided by a monopoly supplier – in Bristol that is Bristol Water. However, your waste water is collected and treated by Wessex Water, although your household will get a single bill administered by Bristol Water Billing Services Limited. This means that you cannot currently switch supplier as you can for other utility services.
Only around 50% of households are metered for their water consumption. You can opt to go onto a meter, although students are unlikely to benefit financially from this option as it usually only benefits low occupancy in larger properties. Once metered, you cannot opt back to the unmetered option.
You can contact Bristol Water Billing Services Ltd on 0345 600 3 600.
Check with your landlord who is responsible for paying the water bill and whether you are on a metered supply. If you are on a meter and are responsible for paying the bill, you should check your meter reading when you first move in. Your meter may be under a metal cover marked ‘water’ in the pavement outside the property.
When the old tenant(s) moved out, they should have taken a final meter reading, but it is still worth taking a reading (or a photo) and sending it to your landlord or Bristol Water as soon as you’ve moved in to make sure that you are not paying for the last tenants’ water. Keep a copy for your own records too.
It is important to take regular meter readings so that you are only charged for the amount of water that you actually use rather than an estimate from Bristol Water.This will also help to identify high consumption from leaks.
Check for leaks and if you find any, report these to your landlord as soon as possible so they can be fixed.
Did you know?
A dripping tap can waste 60 litres a week. If it is hot water, then you will also be wasting energy and money from heating the water (ThamesWater, 2017)
Research shows "1 in 20 homes has a leaking toilet but many don't realise" (ThamesWater, 2018). Leaks may not be obvious and may be intermittent. They can be spotted by observing water rippling in the toilet bowl, or hearing trickling water long after the cistern has (or should have) refilled following a flush. A leaking WC may waste more than 200 litres per day (watefnetwork,p.9), and could account for a significant proportion of your household water bill. Modern push-button style WCs are particularly prone to leaking. Up to a quarter of all water wastage from leaks is from household plumbing fixtures.
It is your landlord’s responsibility to fix any leaks that you find, but until they are fixed, you may be liable for the cost of the wasted water.
Sewer flooding can be caused by washing fats and oils down the sink or flushing the wrong items down the toilet. Fats congeal with plastic-based items causing ‘fatbergs’ that block sewer pipes, causing sewage to back up in the pipes and flood homes.
Remember, only the Four Ps – pee, poo, puke and (toilet) paper should be flushed down your toilet.
You can prevent blockages by putting other items such as wet wipes, cotton buds, feminine sanitary products and condoms in the bin. Even if these items don’t cause sewer blockages, they can by-pass the sewage treatment processes, especially during heavy rainfall, and pollute river banks or beaches.
In the kitchen, washing fat, oil and coffee grounds down the sink will cause blockages too. Let these cool before scraping into your food waste bin for recycling, or put into your household waste bin.
If you have any sewer or drainage problems, contact your landlord as soon as possible.
Wessex Water are responsible for maintaining public sewers (from the property boundary or downstream from a junction with pipework from another property).
Road-side drainage of rainfall is the responsibility of Bristol City Council.
Only 4% of the clean tap water supplied to homes is used for drinking (Bristol Water,2018). The rest goes on showering and bathing, flushing the toilet, washing clothes, washing up and cooking.
By saving water, you can also save energy and money.
Bristol Water give away FREE water saving devices for taps, WCs and showers, click here to find out more. They are easy to fit and will save you money on your water bill. Tap and shower devices also save energy from heating hot water, so can save you money on your energy bill too (about a quarter of your energy bill is for heating water). The gadgets can be removed and you do not need your landlord’s permission to fit them.