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Huge savings from water metering

As Southern Water’s pioneering metering programme nears completion, there is good news for the water saving public in the South East. 

With nearly 500,000 meters installed, customers are using, on average, 60 litres per household per day less water. This represents a 16.5 per cent reduction – far more than the national average of ten per cent. When the metering programme ends, this will equate to a regional saving of 30 million litres of water every day across Kent, Sussex and Hampshire – that’s enough to meet the daily water needs of towns the size of Hastings and Worthing combined.

This reduction in demand has also had an impact on customers’ bills. To date, 62 per cent of metered households are saving, on average, £162 a year.

The findings are revealed in a study published this month by Dr Carmine Ornaghi and Dr Mirco Tonin who are economists at the University of Southampton and are both Associate Professors. They conclude that the five-year metering programme, which began in 2010, has had a significant effect on water consumption. 

Dr Mirco Tonin, said: “In our study we find a strong decrease in consumption due to the Universal Metering Programme. What is remarkable is that households start changing their behaviour as soon as the meter is installed, despite the fact that for three months they have no financial incentives to do so, as there has not yet been any switch of contract.”

Southern Water runs a comprehensive information campaign alongside its metering programme to give customers full details of how they can reduce their water consumption and apply for various tariffs and financial schemes. 

In addition, the company offers free water audits, carried out by water saving experts known as Green Doctors, for customers in financial hardship. Since 2010, the Green Doctors have visited more than 48,000 households and distributed 156,000 water-saving products. This has resulted in a predicted average saving of 20 litres of water per household a day.

Green Doctors are also able to arrange for customers in hardship to receive advice from IncomeMAX – an independent organisation which advises customers what benefits they are entitled to. Since 2010, IncomeMAX has helped customers secure more than £3 million in benefits. 

Southern Water’s Chief Customer Officer, Susan Stockwell, said: “We’re delighted with the results of this independent research which has studied water usage across a huge sample of 250,000 customers. It confirms that the majority of customers are acting on the advice offered by our water efficiency programme, changing their behaviour and reducing their bills. Energy bills are also affected because heating water makes up around 30 per cent of the average household’s energy bill.

“I’d like to thank customers for working with us to save the region millions of litres of water every day which will help to ensure continuity of supply in the densely populated South East.”

Southern Water suggests following these simple tips to reduce water usage: 

  • Limit your shower to four minutes
  • Ensure the dishwasher is full before turning it on
  • Always make sure you have a full load before running the washing machine
  • Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth
  • Boil only as much water as you need for your daily cuppa
  • Use a washing up bowl when cleaning dishes 
  • Use left-over washing up water to feed the plants.

For more information about the metering programme customers should visit www.yourwatermeter.co.uk or phone 0333 2003 015.

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