Serving parts of North West London and the Home Counties.

Our Water Saving Programme

 

 Your questions answered

 

 

  

  

 

 

Questions our customers ask most

 

About our Water Saving Programme

 

Leakage

 

Water Saving

 

Notice of intention to fix metered metered charges – Affinity Water Central Region

 

Meters

 

Reading Meters

 

Bills

 

Switching to metered bills

 


About our Water Saving Programme

 

What is the Water Saving Programme?

We operate in areas which are designated as suffering from serious water stress* and we face a growing population. We need to leave more water in the environment, whilst making sure we have enough water.  We can only do this by working in partnership with our customers to reduce demand for water.

Our Water Saving Programme will achieve this.

SAVING WATER - Helping our customers to save water, save energy and save money. We will offer customers targeted advice and free water saving devices so that they can reduce their water use.

REDUCING LEAKAGE - We will invest to reduce leakage on our network by 14%. This is the highest percentage reduction of any water company in England and Wales.

METERING - We will introduce meters for non-metered customers.

* The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under Regulation 4 of the Water Industry (Prescribed Conditions) Regulations 1999, as amended.

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Why are you introducing a Water Saving Programme?

We need to leave more water in the environment for customers today and for customers in the future. We have started a Water Saving Programme to do this. We will:(WSP) .

- Reduce leakage on our network and work with our customers to help them reduce their water use.

- Introduce meters for customers who currently pay non-metered charges. Meters have been proven to reduce water consumption by 10%* and are an effective way to identify leaks. This will give our customers a better understanding of how much water they use and it will enable us to work with them to help them use less water.

Our Water Saving Programme will help us work in partnership with our customers to make sure we continue to have enough water in the future.

**The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in their publication, Future Water the Governments Water Strategy for England, (p. 25.) state that metering reduces demand for water by 10%.

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Why are your water resources under pressure?

The communities we serve are designated as being under serious water stress* and we need to work with our customers to reduce their water usage.

Many of our customers are amongst the highest water users in the country. We need to supply a growing population whilst reducing the amount of water we take from the environment.

In our Water Resources Management Plan, we estimate that by 2040 there will be an extra 600,000 people living in 280,000 new homes in our supply area.**

We will reduce the amount of water we take from our underground sources by 42 million litres per day by 2020 and by 70 million litres per day by 2025.

Around 60% of our water supply comes from underground sources and needs to be replenished each year by winter rainfall. Less predictable weather patterns associated with climate change could lead to unprecedented drought, if we experience three consecutive dry winters.

* The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under Regulation 4 of the Water Industry (Prescribed Conditions) Regulations 1999, as amended.

** Domestic Housing and Population Forecast produced by Experian based on Local Authority Plans and produced in accordance of the EA and Government guidelines

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Why do you need to introduce a Water Saving Programme?

Many of our customers are amongst some of the highest water users in the country. The communities we serve are designated as being under serious water stress and this challenge is getting bigger because:

  • We provide water in one of the fastest growing, most economically active regions in the UK. We estimate that by 2040, there will be an extra 600,000 people living in 280,000 new homes in our supply area.**
  • We need to take less water from the environment to leave more water for future generations. We will reduce the amount we take by 42 million litres per day by 2020 and by 70 million litres per day by 2025.

Around 60% of our water supply comes from underground sources and needs to be replenished each year by winter rainfall. Less predictable weather patterns associated with climate change could lead to unprecedented drought, if we experience three consecutive dry winters.

**Domestic Housing and Population Forecast produced by Experian based on Local Authority Plans and produced in accordance of the EA and Government guidelines.

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Why are you introducing compulsory meters as part of your programme?

Water meters encourage people to use less water, because they pay for what they actually use. Having a water meter helps our customers understand how much water they are using, so they are more likely use less.** This is why we are introducing meters as part of our programme.

We are planning to install 280,000 household meters by 2020 and to give customers the choice to keep paying non-metered charges for up to two years after their meter is installed

During the two-year period after their meter is installed, we will provide customers with information about their usage and show them what they would pay on a meter, compared with their current bill. We will support those customers who do see an increase by providing targeted information and advice on how to reduce their bills.

Our Business Plan research showed that most customers think that a water meter is the fairest way to charge for their water use. A water meter gives customers the power to reduce their water bill – if they use less water.

Having a water bill can help customers save money on water and energy bills, approximately 21% of a household heating bill relates to heating water.*** Sewerage charges for customers with a meter are based on water use – so savings can be made on the sewerage bill too, through using less water.

One third of leakage occurs on customers’ supply pipes, on their side of the stop tap. Metering customers’ properties helps to identify these leaks – potentially saving millions of litres of water every day.

**The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in their publication, Future Water the Governments Water Strategy for England, (p. 25.) state that metering reduces demand for water by 10%.

***www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

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Where will you be installing meters and when?

We have eight ‘water communities’ (zones) based on local rivers and we will be rolling out our meter installation programme in our Central Region between 2015 and 2020 starting In Hatfield.

The following maps show where our metering installations are planned.

For an indication of when your property is due to be metered click here to use our post code checker.

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In our Central Region 42% of customers are currently metered. We will meter the Misbourne, Colne, Lee and Stort zones between 2015 and 2020.

We will meter the Pinn and Wey zones from 2020 to 2025. 90% of customers in our Central Region will be metered by 2025.

In our Southeast Region, the Dour is 93% metered.

In our East Region, the Brett is 80% metered. We will encourage remaining customers to switch to metered charges over the next 10 years.

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Why are you planning to do this over 10 years?

We are metering communities in a specific order for a number of reasons. The most important reason is to help save water in those communities where it is most needed.

The biggest population and housing growth projections are in our Lee Water resource zone (WRZ3) and Stort (WRZ5) communities. In addition, many of our precious chalk streams run through these communities, supporting various flora and fauna. To protect their fragile eco-systems, we have agreed with the Environment Agency that we will reduce abstractions in areas where they are believed to be causing damage. As explained in our Water Resource Management Plan, we will be implementing sustainability reductions in our Misbourne (WRZ1), Colne (WRZ2) and Lee (WRZ3) communities over the next ten years. We continue to investigate the effects of our abstractions as part of the National Environment Programme, as specified by the Environment Agency. The combination of sustainability reductions and growth dictates the order in which we will deliver our Water Savings Programme.

https://stakeholder.affinitywater.co.uk/water-resources.aspx

The population growth in our southerly communities (Pinn, WRZ4 and Wey, WRZ6) is forecast to be slower, and there are no sustainability reductions. These communities will be metered later in our programme.

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Is Affinity Water doing this to save money?

No.

Our business plan includes the Water Saving Programme. We are keen to make sure we provide a value for money service which is affordable. Between 2015 and 2020 we plan to decrease the average bill by around 1% before inflation.

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Why are you only planning to meter 90% of properties?

Not all properties can have a meter fitted in a practical or cost effective way. There are various reasons for this which include, flats with communal facilities and properties with shared or multiple supply pipes.

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Who is paying for metering customer properties?

Water meters will be installed free of charge and will be maintained by Affinity Water.

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Is your Water Saving Programme a way of making more money from customers?

No, our plan to fit meters in your community will enable us to deliver our customer commitment to make sure our customers have enough water, whilst leaving more water in the environment. Between 2007 and 2013, we installed more than 35,000 meters at homes in Kent where we supply water. 93% of customers in this area now have meters and these customers have reduced their water use by 16% on average. 

More information on our commitments to meeting our customers’ expectations can be found in our Business Plan for 2015-2020.

The amount we charge our customers and the income we receive is agreed with our regulator. Ofwat determines how much we can spend each year on capital investment and how much we can charge our customers. Our business plan includes the Water Saving Programme. Between 2015 and 2020 we plan to decrease the average household bill by around 1%, before inflation.

The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in their publication, Future Water the Governments Water Strategy for England, (p. 25.) state that metering reduces demand for water by 10%.

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You will have lower operating costs if customers use less water, but you are not passing these benefits on to customers – why?

We have put a lot of care and thought into our Business Plan and have estimated the revenue we need for 2015-20, assuming we achieve the levels of water saving needed, along with reductions in leakage, to enable us to reduce the level of water we take from underground sources to leave more water in the environment.

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Leakage

 

What is Affinity Water doing to save water by fixing leaks?

Since April 2010 we have consistently met the leakage targets we agreed with our regulator, Ofwat.

We know how important reducing leakage is and we are doing our bit to save water. We have invested to drive down the level of leakage in our network. Every day we have more than 100 people finding and fixing leaks.

By constantly monitoring the flow of water through our network we can identify unusually high/low flows and this helps us to identify leaks.

We know that our communities can also help us when they spot a leak. That’s why we have our leakspotter line 0800 376 5325 or customers can contact us on social media https://www.affinitywater.co.uk/report-a-leak.aspx if they become aware of a leak in their neighbourhood.

In 2015 to 2020, we will reduce leakage on our network by 14%, the equivalent of 27 million litres per day by 2020. That is the equivalent to the water in 11 Olympic size swimming pools. This is the largest percentage reduction in the next five years of any water company in England and Wales. Between 2015 and 2020, we are investing more than £500 million to make our assets more resilient.

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How do customers know if they have a leak?

A damp patch in the garden, driveway, or anywhere on customer's property during dry weather may indicate that they have a leak. One particular patch of the lawn might always be green no matter how dry the weather has been.

Indications of a leak could be:

  • water running down a drain when no water is being used in the property?

  • water hissing or the sound of running water (rather like when your tank or WC cistern is filling), when there is no water being used in the property? This can be particularly noticeable at night.

    How to check for a leak:

    1. Make sure that no water is being used in the property and that all taps are turned off. You should also make sure that your water storage tank or toilet cisterns are not refilling.

    2. Read the meter and make a note of all the numbers on the read out including those after the decimal point.

    3. Wait 12 minutes and note down a second reading.

    4. If the number has not changed, you do not have a leak.

    5. If the number has changed, you potentially have a leak.

    6. You can now check if the leak is internal (in your property) or external (between the stop tap and your property). To do this, turn off your internal stop tap and repeat the 12 minute process above.

    7. If after trying this the dials have not moved this means your leak is internal to your property. If the dials have moved this means your leak is external to your property.

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What happens if I have a leak?

If you are not sure if you have a leak, please view this video to check. https://www.affinitywater.co.uk/how-to-video-manage-high-consumption.aspx

If you have proved you have a leak, either on your supply pipe or in your home, you need to fix this as soon as possible. If the leak is inside your home, view this list of approved plumbers https://www.affinitywater.co.uk/approved-plumbers.aspx to see who can help you repair this in your area. If the leak is on your supply pipe, we may be able to help you repair this – click here to understand the next steps. https://www.affinitywater.co.uk/supply-pipe-repairs.aspx

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Does water at the bottom of the pit where the meter has been fitted indicate a leak?

A small amount of water in the chamber where the meter is located is normal and is more likely to be rainwater than a leak. However, if there is water in the chamber after a prolonged dry spell, this could indicate a leak and may need to be checked. If there is visible water running down the street you can report this online, you can tweet us using the hashtag #leakspotters or call us on 0800 376 5325 or visit our website to report the leak at: https://www.affinitywater.co.uk/report-a-leak.aspx .

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What happens if you discover a leak when you install my meter?

We follow a Code of Practice for leaks that occur on the supply pipe, which is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain. Under our Code of Practice, when we install the meter, we will check for leaks between the meter and your internal tap. If we find a leak we can repair without additional excavation, while fitting the meter we will repair the leak free of charge at the time of installation.

After installing the meter if we find a leak on the supply pipe within the boundary of your premises (not in or under a building), that requires further excavation to repair, we may also offer to repair the pipe free of charge.

This service is offered to repair a leak found between the external stop tap and the property building boundary. Leaks found to occur under the property itself are not included. Depending on the circumstance, we may attempt to fix very simple internal leak issues such as dripping taps and leaking dual flush toilets at our discretion.

Any repair has a defects liability period of one year. Please note, the defect liability period covers the work done and does not guarantee a leak free supply for the defects liability period should a new leak occur from elsewhere.

Each customer can claim one single free repair for a maximum period of three months after the meter installation. If we are aware of a leak prior to a meter installation as part of our Water Saving Programme, a free repair will not be offered.

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What amount of water will trigger a leak alarm on the meter?

The meters we are installing as part of the water savings programme will tell us if there is a suspected continuous flow of water to your property which may be caused by a leak. The threshold of this alarm is eight litres per hour over a 24 hour period. The number of days in the month this alarm is active for will help us determine if a leak investigation is required.

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Water Saving

 

How will you help customers to save water?

We will help our customers by providing advice and water saving devices to reduce their water use. These free water saving devices are available now at www.affinitywater.co.uk/savewater

According to the Energy Saving Trust, approximately 21% of a household heating bill relates to heating water for showers, baths and hot water taps. This does not include kettles, washing machines and dishwashers, which use additional energy.

If customers use less water, they are likely to save on their energy bills too. Between 2015 and 2020, we plan to visit customers’ properties to help them save water.

Our Water Saving Squad will continue to be active in the communities we serve, offering free water efficiency advice and products. Our Education Services team will be increasing their outreach activity – visiting schools to educate students on water in the environment and how to save water.

Between 2015 and 2020, customers will receive information on how to save water, save energy and save money. We are planning to increase our use of digital communications including social media activity and improvements to our website to support the programme.

We will encourage our customers to make small changes to their behaviour – which will make a big difference. Not only will these changes help save water, they’ll also help save money on customers' water bills – so it’s good for their pockets and good for the environment too.

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What can customers do now to save water?

These water saving ideas can really make a difference:

  • Take a short, 4 minute shower instead of a bath

  • Turn off the tap while brushing teeth

  • Install a ‘Save-a-Flush’ device if you have a single flush toilet

  • Only run your washing machine or dishwasher with a full load

  • Fix dripping taps – if you need an approved plumber visit www.watersafe.org.uk

  • When boiling the kettle, only boil enough for your immediate use

  • Use a water butt to collect rainwater, which can be used to water your garden or wash your car

Affinity Water customers can order water saving products free from our website, such as water efficient shower heads, tap aerators and fun products to encourage water efficiency for children.

For more information on water saving and use a Water Calculator, visit: www.affinitywater.co.uk/savewater

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How can I save more water?

We have many top tips that our customers have proved save water – click here https://www.affinitywater.co.uk/saving-water.aspx to learn more!

Check if you are eligible for a free Home Water Efficiency Check if you have not already had one. Visit www.affinitywater.co.uk/homecheck, call 0345 357 2403 or email homecheck@affinitywater.co.uk

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How can customers get free water saving products?

Water saving products such as water efficient shower heads, tap aerators and fun children’s products can be obtained by visiting our website: www.affinitywater.co.uk/savewater.

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Will customers still be able to water their garden if they have a water meter installed?

Yes, but customers on metered charges will pay for the water they use. If your meter is fitted as part of our Water Saving Programme, you will continue to be billed for your water on a non-metered basis for two years, unless you ask to switch to a metered bill during this period.

It may be more water efficient to water your plants in the evening when it is cooler and to use a watering can which uses less water. Alternatively, you might consider installing a water butt which stores the rainwater collected from your guttering and water your plants for free.

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Meters

 

Will customers have to pay for their meter?

No, meters will be installed free of charge and will be maintained by Affinity Water.

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How will you be telling customers about their meter installation?

We will send a letter and information booklet to customers around three months prior to installing their meter and a further letter around one month before the installation.

Customers will also be able to find information on the Affinity Water web site www.affinitywater.co.uk/wsp and through My Account, their self serve portal.

We will also work with local communities and community representatives stakeholders, including local Government and Environmental groups so that they have information about our Water Saving Programme.

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How many people are already on meters?

In our Central Region 42% of households are currently metered. We will meter the Misbourne, Colne, Lee and Stort zones between 2015 and 2020.

We will meter the Pinn and Wey zones from 2020 to 2025. 90% of households in our Central Region will be metered by 2025.

 

In our Southeast Region, 93% households are metered.

In our East Region, 80% households in the Brett community are metered. We will encourage remaining customers to switch to metered charges over the next 10 years.

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If water meters are the fairest way of calculating bills, why isn’t everyone on them?

In the past, many customers have paid water charges based on the rateable value of their property. This means that some customers bills do not relate to the amount of water they use. For many customers this will mean they will pay less when they move on to a meter. However, for some customers this will mean they will pay more. This is likely to be the case where the rateable value of a property is low and water consumption is high.

The use of rateable value charges or unmeasured charges was common in the past when saving water was much less important. As a result of this not everyone is on a meter.

Our Business Plan research showed that most customers think that a water meter is the fairest way to charge for their water use. A water meter helps to reduce their metered water bill – if they use less water.

During the two-year period after their meter is installed, we will provide customers with information about their usage and show them what they would pay on a meter, compared with their current bill. We will support those customers who do see an increase, by providing targeted information and advice on how to reduce their bills.

Because 21% of household heating bills relate to heating water, if customers use less water they are likely to save money on their energy bills too.

We are planning to install 280,000 household meters by 2020 and give customers the choice to keep paying non-metered charges for up to two years.

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How do you know that metering will save water?

Between 2007 and 2013, we installed more than 35,000 meters at homes in Kent where we supply water. 93% of customers in this area now have meters and these customers have reduced their water use by 16% on average.

The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in their publication, Future Water the Governments Water Strategy for England, (p. 25.) state that metering reduces demand for water by 10%.

Metering also provides an opportunity to identify and fix leaks on customers’ supply pipes.

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Will all homes be metered?

Every property in our Central Region will be metered where this is technically feasible and these meters will be maintained by us. Currently, 42% of customers in our Central Region have a meter and we are planning to fit meters to 90% of properties by 2023. If your property cannot be metered then you will be transferred to the relevant domestic assessed tariff.

Not all properties can have a meter fitted in a practical or cost effective way. There are various reasons for this which include, flats with communal facilities and properties with multiple supply pipes.

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Will businesses be metered?

Most business customers already have a water meter, but businesses are not part of our Water Saving Programme. Our focus for the Water Saving Programme will be working with household customers to help them save water.

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Who have you talked to about meters?

We have consulted extensively with customers, local community representatives and customer representative groups. We have also kept our independent Customer Scrutiny Group up to date with our plans.

In our Business Plan research conducted in 2013, the majority of our customers thought that metering was the fairest way of charging for water.

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Why don’t you try alternatives to metering customers to meet demand?

We do extensive planning and produce a Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) which sets out information on all the options available. These considered options such as investing in a reservoir, desalination and additional imports of water from outside our supply area.

We have chosen to reduce demand first in our plans for 2015-2020 before considering more expensive supply options. This keeps costs down for customers.

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What about customers who live in rented accommodation?

We will be fitting meters to all properties in our Central Region. Tenants may wish to let their landlord know, but do not need to obtain their permission.

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Will you be installing meters in properties which are being renovated?

Yes, we will install meters where a property is being renovated or refurbished so that we can measure water use. If a property is being renovated to sell or let, the new owner or tenant will pay for water on a metered charge as soon as they move in.

If the property is being renovated and the owner or tenant remains the same, they will continue to receive the unmetered bill for two years, unless they request to opt into a metered bill earlier.

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What happens in properties where water is part of the service charge?

At this point in our programme you will not be metered.

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Where will the meters be fitted?

Where possible we will fit meters outside the property at the location of the external stop tap. This could be on the footpath or verge outside your property, or just inside your property boundary.

If we cannot install the meter immediately we will arrange an appointment to fit an internal meter. This will usually under the kitchen sink or wherever your internal stop tap is located. We will always take care to keep disruption to a minimum and will keep customers updated regularly.

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How long does it take to fit a meter?

It takes approximately one hour to fit a meter and customers may not even notice that it has been done. In some cases we may need to dig a hole to install a meter. In these cases the meter fit may take longer as we will need to arrange for a team to excavate and fully reinstate the area. We will keep customers fully updated if this is the case.

There will be a brief disruption to your water supply while the work is carried out. If a customer has special needs that require an uninterrupted supply and they have not already registered their needs with us, then all they need to do is call us on 0345 357 2407 so we can discuss this with them.

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Will fitting meters cause any disruption?

We will work hard to minimise disruption to our customers.

When we install meters we will need to shut off a property’s water supply for a short period, typically less than 15 minutes. Half of our installations can be done without digging holes in the footpath; the rest will require us to dig a small excavation outside a property. We will aim to reinstate excavations within 24 hours.

We will write to customers three months before we plan to fit their meter and again one month before to give them more information about when we will be working in their area. For an indication of when a property is due to be metered or when we will be working in an area, please use the post code checker on our website by clicking this link When will you be metering?

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What metering technology will be used? What are AMR meters?

We will be installing Automated Meter Reading (AMR) technology. This will allow us to read meters remotely, without requiring occupants to be at home, using drive-by radio frequency (RF) technology.

AMR meters allow us to provide information about water use so our customers know where they can make savings.

To learn more about AMR meters click here

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Are AMR meters safe?

Yes, AMR technology is safe. Each day most of us already use devices which operate using radio frequency (RF) energy such as mobile phones, microwave ovens and baby monitors. Radio frequency emissions for smart meters are far lower than these items. In units of μW/cm2 at a distance of 30cm a baby monitor emits 15.6275, a mobile phone 9.6425, a microwave 7.0775 and the smart meter 4.035.(click here for more details)

The World Health Organisation has confirmed that there is no risk to health from AMR meters. “To date, the only health effect from RF fields identified in scientific reviews has been related to an increase in body temperature (less than 1 °C) from exposure at very high field intensity found only in certain industrial facilities, such as RF heaters.

“The levels of RF exposure from base stations and wireless networks are so low that the temperature increases are insignificant and do not affect human health.”

Below is a table showing the relative power emissions of items typically found in the household.

 

   

 

Table taken from BCCDC report click here. 

More information is available from the World Health Organization on electromagnetic fields and public health click here. 

 

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Do customers have to do anything before their meter is installed?

No, we will write to customers approximately three months before to let them know when we will be in their area.

For an indication of when a property is due to be metered customers can use our post code checker on our website, click here to use.

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Do all customers have to have a meter?

Yes, where this is technically possible.

Affinity Water operates in areas the Secretary of State for the Environment has designated as being under serious water stress.* The Secretary of State has also approved our Water Resources Management Plan, which includes a programme of metering customers’ properties. The Water Industry Act 1991 (Parts V and VI) and regulations made under the Act, provide powers for water companies to install meters and switch customers to metered charging under a compulsory scheme.

Ofwat confirms that ‘If one or more of the conditions for compulsory metering outlined above applies to you, your company is allowed to install a meter and charge you according to how much water you use.’ Water Meters Your Questions Answered p. 19, 20.

Water Meters - your questions answered * The Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs under Regulation 4 of the Water Industry (Prescribed Conditions) Regulations 1999, as amended.

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Are water companies required by Defra to introduce compulsory metering?

Between 2012 and 2013, Affinity Water spent 18 months communicating and consulting with customers and stakeholders on its plans, including the cost benefit of metering customers’ properties, and received responses from more than 12,500 customers.

Having done this and demonstrated customer support, the plan was approved by the Secretary of State.

Affinity Water is not required by Defra (The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) to adopt this policy. We consulted with customers, produced our Water Resources Plan and it has been approved.

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Do you need a customer's permission to fit a meter inside their property boundary?

No, but we will send a letter giving seven days’ notice of our intention to fit a meter inside the boundary of the property.

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Will customer's need to be at home when you fit their meter?

No, we can usually fit their meter while they are out and will leave a leaflet to explain that we have done so. However, if we need a customer to be present for any reason e.g. to fit your meter internally, we will contact them to make an appointment.

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Can customers choose to have an internal meter?

Where possible, we will fit meters externally where the existing stop tap is located. This is usually located in the footpath or verge outside a property or just inside the property boundary. Only when this is not possible will the meter be fitted inside the home, usually wherever the internal stop tap is located e.g. under the kitchen sink.

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If a customer does not want an internal meter can one be fitted outside?

We always try to install meters externally and only fit an internal meter when this is not possible. For example, if a customer lives in a flat or a house with a shared water supply pipe they may have to have an internal meter. To make this more convenient for you we will fit an internal AMR (automated meter reading) meter so that we can take a meter reading from the road outside the property.

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If a customer already has a meter can they ask to have it moved?

We always try to install meters externally. Most meters are located in an existing boundary box on an external stop tap, where one is available. Our company policy is not to install meters inside a customer's property, except as a last resort.

Is the meter fitted inside the house?

If a meter has been fitted inside the property, there is a possibility that it could not be fitted outside and it may not be possible to move it.

The most common reason for an internal meter is that adjoining properties are on a joint or shared supply. If a customer is on a shared supply, their external stop tap is usually shared with their neighbours and cannot be used to fit a meter. If we fitted a meter at the shared stop tap, we would be recording all the water going to all the connected properties. In these circumstances we would not be able to move your meter outside unless the customer had a new separate supply laid.

If the customer does not have an external stop tap or the external stop tap is buried, they will need to arrange to have a new stop tap installed on their side of the property boundary. We would not normally carry out this work and the customer would need to engage their own plumber to carry out any work. .

If the meter is fitted internally, it will be in the same location as the internal stop tap. If the customer intends to carry out improvements, to their kitchen for example, which involve moving the internal stop tap; it may be possible to move the meter from one internal location to the new internal stop tap location. If the new meter is fitted internally, we will fit a meter that can be read remotely, so that we do not need the customer to be at home to get an actual reading from the meter.

 

Is the meter fitted outside, for example, on the drive, in the garden or in the public footpath?

If the meter is fitted externally, this will be on the supply pipe, the pipe which provides water to the whole property, normally in the same location as the external stop tap. We cannot usually move the meter, unless the stop tap and all the associated pipework are going to be moved too. The choice of location for an external meter is very limited, as it needs to be fitted in the flow of water to the whole property. The depth of pipework is dictated by the slope of the surrounding area, so this means we can't lift the meter to be higher in the ground, for example.

If it is possible to move the meter, we do make a charge for this service. Please see our charges scheme for Meter Installation Charges  To view our Charges Scheme for 2016/2017 click here.

To arrange a visit from our customer service technician to see if it would be possible to move a meter, please call to speak to an advisor. The initial visit will be free of charge, but please note that technicians can only attend between 8am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. We are sorry but we cannot make appointments for weekends or evenings.

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Who owns the meter?

The meter, the metal cover and frames belong to Affinity Water. We will be responsible for repairs to the meter and replacements when we introduce new technology.

The only exception to this ownership is where a landlord or property owner has fitted meters to measure the consumption of individual units (homes or businesses) which all receive their water from a common supply.

In this case, the main meter which records the total consumption for the site will belong to Affinity Water but any other meter will be the property and responsibility of the landlord or property owner.

It is illegal to tamper with a meter. A customer must not move or change anything that affects the meter and they cannot employ their own plumber to fit the primary meter.

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Will the meter have an impact on electrical earthing?

Before 1967 it was common practice to earth electrical installations to the incoming metal water services pipe. Since then it has been prohibited for any new electrical installation to use the water pipes as the sole means of earthing. This type of arrangement has not been permitted since 1966 by the Electrical Engineers Wiring Regulations. If your property was built after 1966, or has been professionally rewired since then, the electricians should have installed a proper earth. However, some older systems may still rely on water pipes for earthing.

Whenever we work on water service pipes we may replace some old metal pipework with plastic pipes. If the electrical system relies on metal water pipes, customers should get an electrician to review the earthing arrangements. Any charges involved will be the responsibility of the customer.

Remember that earthing of electrical installations is the sole responsibility of the owner of the installation. Water companies have no legal liability in respect of this earthing and advise against it. If a customer has any doubts about their present earthing arrangements, they should contact your electricity company or an approved electrical contractor urgently for advice. If they are not responsible for the electrical installation, they should notify the owner/landlord immediately.

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Will installing a meter affect water pressure?

No, a meter will not affect the water pressure in your home.

Customers may notice a temporary drop in pressure after the meter installation. To resolve this, they should run the mains water tap for a few minutes to restore the pressure. If this does not resolve the issue, then they should call our contact centre on 0345 357 2403.

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How will you advise customers that you will be installing meters in their road?

We will write to customers three months before we begin work in an area and again one month before we fit meters in their road. We will give them more information about the meter and its installation.

For an indication of when a property is due to be metered customers can use our post code checker on our website, click here to use.

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Will there be a disruption to water supplies?

There will be a brief disruption while the work is carried out. If a customer has special needs that require an uninterrupted supply and they have not already registered their needs with us, then they should call us on 0345 357 2407 so we can discuss this with them.

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Will water be safe to drink after the meter is fitted?

Yes our water will be safe to drink following the meter installation.

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What if the tap water is discoloured?

The water may be discoloured at first when the mains tap is turned on (usually the cold kitchen tap) after the meter has been installed – this is completely normal. The water will clear after running the tap for a few minutes.

We also ask customers not to use any electrical appliances that require a water supply, such as washing machines or dishwashers until the water runs clear. Central heating systems will not be affected.

If this problem persists then customers should call us on 0345 357 2403.

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Why is there no meter in the meter box?

All meters are fitted under a frost-protection plug of polystyrene, so customers need to remove this to see their meter. It is important to replace the polystyrene plug after looking at the meter.

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If a customer has any questions about the installation who should they contact?

Customers can visit our website at www.affinitywater.co.uk or contact us on 0345 357 2403.

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What if a customer already has a water meter?

When the Water Saving Programme reaches that area we may replace their current water meter with an AMR meter. If this happens, we will let them know.

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What happens if you have to gain access to a customer’s property to fit their meter?

We can usually fit the meter while they are out and will leave them a leaflet to explain that we have done so. However, if we need them to be present for any reason e.g. to fit the meter internally we will knock on their door or leave a card asking them to contact us to make an appointment.

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Will you fit meters to all unmetered properties in a road on the same day?

We will try and install all the meters on a road on the same day, but occasionally we may need to come back at a later date, for example if a customer’s meter has to be fitted internally, or if they are on a shared supply.

If we cannot install a meter at a property, we will give the customer a leaflet advising them of the reason and letting them know what will happen next.

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What happens if a meter cannot be fitted?

If we are not able to fit a meter at a property, then the customer will be switched to an Assessed Charges Tariff. We will write to customers giving them more information about this tariff if we are unable to fit a meter at their property.

Our assessed charges tariff is calculated upon the annual meter standing charge and an assessed annual consumption charge, based on the number of occupants in the household.

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The meter has been fitted but there is still a hole. What happens next?

The majority of excavations will be reinstated within 24 hours. In very rare circumstances with specialist surfaces such as flagstones and red tarmac, it may take us slightly longer than this but if this is the case we will let our customers know.

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What happens if there is a problem with a customer's meter?

Our teams are highly trained and fitting a meter is a simple process. However, should something go wrong we will ensure that we resolve the issue as quickly as possible and keep our customers fully updated throughout the process.

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What should a customer do if they hear a noise from their pipes following the meter fitting?

If a customer can hear a noise that wasn’t there before we came to fit their meter they don’t need to worry. If they contact us via our website or call us on 0345 357 2403 we can help them to resolve the issue.

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Why can’t holes be reinstated at the same time as you fit the meter?

We will aim to reinstate excavations within 24 hours. Whenever we carry out any work the surface is returned, as far as possible, to its original condition.

Grass verges are seeded, pavements, roadways or drives are re-laid and kerbstones are replaced. Our reinstatement work is strictly monitored and we have to meet very high standards. We have to abide by a range of regulations, including the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and Water Industry Act 1991.

We may sometimes need to lay a temporary tarmac or bitumen surface. The hole will be filled in and the temporary surface laid to make the area level and safe. The final or permanent reinstatement will then be carried out as soon as practically possible. This may have to happen, for example, where we require a specialist team to lay materials which match existing surfaces. We will, of course, be aiming to finish the work to our usual high standard as soon as we can.

If customers have any concerns about a reinstatement, they should call us on 0345 357 2403 and we will be happy to investigate.

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What should customers do if they think they have a faulty meter?

The meters we fit are extremely reliable and accurate and have to conform to standards prescribed by regulations. However, if customers think there is an issue with their meter then they should contact us via our website or on 0345 357 2403 and we can investigate.

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What if a meter is damaged or vandalised?

If the meter cover is broken, the frost cover is missing or if a customer needs to report any other damaged or missing equipment, then they should click here to complete our online form.

We will arrange for a member of our Community Operations team to attend. Timescales depend upon the severity of the problem but, in routine cases, this will be within 5 working days.

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Reading Meters

How can customers access their meter?

If a meter is fitted externally, the meter should be in front of the house at the boundary to a customer’s property or in the public footpath, where the stop tap is located. The meter will be sitting inside a chamber underneath a metal or plastic cover. Watch our video on how to find your boundary stop tap

If the meter is fitted internally, it is usually fitted wherever the internal stop tap is located e.g. under the kitchen sink.

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Do customers need to be at home when we read their internal meter?

No, all of our new meters are Automatic Meter Reading meters (AMR) and enable us to read the meter from outside a customer's home.

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Will you be expecting older and less able customers to read their own meters?

No, we will read your meter for you automatically.

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Bills

 

Will customers be switched to metered charges after their meter is installed?

No. We will give customers the choice to keep paying non-metered charges for up to two years and provide targeted information and practical support to customers who do see an increase on how to reduce their bills.

If customers would like to opt to be switched over to metered charges earlier, they can do this by logging on to My Account at www.affinitywater.co.uk/myaccount or by contacting us on 0345 357 2403.

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Do you plan to increase customer bills?

We expect average household customer bill’s to decrease by around 1% per year, before inflation between 2015 and 2020.

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Will customers be worse off with a water meter?

We recognise that some customer’s bills may eventually rise as a result of switching to a metered tariff. We will therefore give customers the choice to keep paying non-metered charges for up to two years after their meter is installed. We will fully support our customers during the two year transition period by offering free water audits, expert advice and free water saving devices to help them save water.

We will send cost comparison information at six monthly intervals, so customers can see how much they would pay on a metered charge.

Customers will be automatically switched to a metered charge two years after their meter is installed, or earlier if they choose.

Customers on metered charges have the opportunity to reduce their water bill – by using less water. Sewerage charges for customers with a meter are based on actual water use – so savings can be made on their sewerage bill too, through using less water.

If customers sign up to My Account they can log on and see their consumption on-line. 

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If a customer is a high water user – will their bills go up?

We will give customers the choice to keep paying non-metered charges for up to two years and provide targeted information and practical support to customers who do see an increase on how to reduce their bills.

We will send cost comparison information at six monthly intervals, so customers can see how much they would pay on a metered charge.

We also offer free water audits which will help customers to understand their water use and provide and install water saving devices to help them save water, save energy, save money.

There are several possible reasons for high consumption:

  • internal plumbing problems created by dripping taps, washing machine flooding, overflow or ballcock problems in toilet cisterns or storage tanks

  • a leak on a supply pipe

  • building work and redecoration or a new lawn being laid leading to higher than normal use of water

Watch our video on how to manage high consumption.

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How will you support customers who are struggling to pay their bills?

We have a number of schemes to assist vulnerable customers.

Low Income Tariff (LI£T)

Our LI£T fixed-tariff is aimed at customers who have a low household income or are claiming benefits.

If their annual household income is less than £16,010 or they are in receipt of housing benefit or income support, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, they are eligible for a reduced bill that can be spread over twelve months.

 

WaterSure Scheme

Metered customers on certain qualifying benefits and with either:

  • three or more children under the age of 19

  • or a person in their household with a medical condition which means they use a lot of water could be eligible for this scheme, which places a limit on their bill.

For more information visit: www.affinitywater.co.uk/lowincome

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What if a customer can’t pay their bill when their meter is installed?

Customer's billing arrangements will not change for two years. They will continue to be billed for their water on a non metered basis for two years, unless they ask to switch to a metered bill during this period.

At six monthly intervals, we will send information about their water usage and show them what they would be paying on a metered charge – compared with their current non-metered bill, with tips to reduce their water usage.

We want to provide water at affordable prices to all of our customers – that’s why we have a number of schemes to assist those who are most vulnerable.

If the following applies to a customer, we might be able to help them to reduce their costs:

  • They have a low household income.

  • They are in receipt of benefits

  • They use more water than the average household because they have three or more children under the age of 19 or a medical condition which means they use a lot of water.

For more information visit: www.affinitywater.co.uk/lowincome

So that we can help, we need to know as soon as possible if any customer is having problems paying their bill. They can contact us on 0345 357 2410 as soon as  they are aware that they may have a problem as there are lots of ways we can help.

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How much does water cost?

You can see a full list of our charges for 2014/2015 in our Charges Schemes here.  To view our Charges Scheme for 2016/2017 click here.

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How is a metered bill calculated?

A bill is made up of a fixed 'standing charge' for the water supply which is normally billed in advance and a charge per cubic meter (1000 litres) for the amount of water a customer uses based on the meter reading.

The bill will also include a charge for waste water removal services by Thames Water or Anglian Water. We don't set the amount of these charges but, as agents for these two companies, we collect the charge on their behalf. There will be a ‘standing charge’ for waste water and a charge for waste water removal. This is calculated on the amount of water the customer has used based on the reading from their meter.

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How does a customer switch to a metered bill after their meter has been installed as part of the Water Saving Programme?

A customer can switch to a metered charge whenever they wish to, after their meter has been installed. If they would like to opt to be switched over to metered charges earlier, they can do this by logging on to My Account at www.affinitywater.co.uk/myaccount or by contacting us on 0345 357 2403.

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How often will you send out bills?

Once a customer is on a metered tariff we will send them a bill twice a year.

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What will my first metered bill look like?

Your first metered bill is a little different to the standard bills you’ll get from us. Your first bill is for advanced charges that contribute to maintaining the water and sewerage pipework, we call this the standing charge. This bill also includes any credit or debit carried over from your previous non-metered bill but does not include any water usage.

This bill will also include details of your payment plan which will be based on an assessment of how much water we believe you will use divided into equal monthly payments.

The date of your next metered bill which will include your water usage is dependant on your post code which is based on our metered billing schedule for your area. Your first metered bill may not be for the full six months, but future bills will follow at six monthly intervals.

If you choose to be billed on a metered basis, you will not be able to switch back to non-metered charges

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How can a customer save money on energy bills?

Many customers will see a reduction in their bills and all customers can reduce their use of water by making small changes to their lifestyle. Visit www.affinitywater.co.uk/savewater

According to the Energy Saving Trust, approximately 21% of a household heating bill relates to heating water for showers, baths and hot water taps. This does not include kettles, washing machines and dishwashers, which use additional energy. If a customer uses less water they are likely to save on their energy bills too.

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How much does it cost to dial an 03 number?

Calls to 03 numbers are charged at local rate from UK landlines and mobile phones.

We do not receive a share of the charge you pay to call a 03 number.

These rules apply to calls from any type of line including mobile, BT, other fixed line or payphone.

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Switching to metered bills

 

After my account is switched, when will I receive my first metered bill?

We’ll send your first metered bill within 20 days of switching your account to a metered bill.

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I don’t want to be billed on my meter, can I choose?

As part of our Water Saving Programme, all customers will automatically switch to a meter two years after it has been installed. This encourages everybody to be in control of their water usage, and therefore save water, and is deemed the fairest way to pay. Read our charges scheme to find out more.

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Can I change back to an unmetered bill?

No, now you have completed your two year cost comparison period you will not be able to change back to an unmetered bill. You’re now totally in control of what you use, and therefore what you save!

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Will I still receive a cost comparison letter?

Once you switch to metered billing you will no longer receive your six monthly cost comparison letter.

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Will I receive a refund when I change to a metered bill?

Your first bill is for Fixed Standing Charges only and also includes any credit or debit carried over from your previous non-metered bill. If your balance if over £50, we will refund this to you. If your balance is less than £50, we’ll leave this as a credit on your account.

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My bill is a Low Income Fixed Tariff, will this change?

Your account will be automatically change to our metered Low Income Fixed Tariff so the amount you pay for clean water will stay exactly the same! However, your sewerage charges will now be based on how much water you use, so this means the sewerage element of your bill could change. Click here to find out if we can help with your sewerage payments.

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How will you work out my payments?

Your metered bill is made up of standing charges, payable in advance, and your water and sewerage usage, payable in arrears – similar to a 'pay-as-you-go' plan. To calculate how much you need to pay each month, we will use the meter readings we have taken over the past 2 years. However, as your water usage changes, we may need to adjust your payment plan each year to ensure your bill is fully paid – don’t worry, we’ll always let you know before we do this.

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How will my payments change after my bill is switched?

If you already pay monthly by direct debit, you don’t need to do anything… we’ll automatically adjust your payments for you. Your payments will change from 10 per year, to monthly to make it easier for you to manage your account.

If you are not a direct debit customer, you will receive your bill every 6 months instead of annually, and you should pay as normal.

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How will my new metered bill be different to my old bills?

Your first bill will be a little different to the future bills you’ll receive as you will not be charged for your water usage in your first bill. You will receive your next metered bill, which includes your water usage, when we next read your meter. Future bills will follow at six monthly intervals and your future payment plan will be explained on page two of your bill.

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I am struggling to pay my water bill, can you help me?

We have a number of different tariffs that may be able to help you. Find out more information at www.affinitywater.co.uk/lowincome

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Will my sewerage payments change?

Your metered bill will also include a charge for waste water removal services by Thames Water or Anglian Water. We don't set the amount of these charges but, as agents for these two companies, we collect the charge on their behalf.

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Can I still view the usage comparison chart online?

No, once you have changed over to metered billing you will no longer be able to view your water usage online.

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