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Leak-busting water meters save millions of litres

Southern Water’s five-year metering project – to install nearly 500,000 water meters across Kent, Sussex and Hampshire – is saving thousands of litres of water a day by automatically identifying leaks in customers’ pipes.

Any water meter can help customers reduce their water consumption by charging for every unit used which leads to a reduced demand - but Southern Water’s new meter is also equipped with an automatic leak alarm. The first of its type in Britain, the alarm activates when water runs continuously through the meter for four hours. The alarm is picked up when the meter is read (four times in the first year) so that a leak can then be identified and repaired.

Meter installations commenced in November 2010. Since then leaks have been detected in 1.3% of properties where this ‘intelligent’ meter has been installed. At this rate, with 486,000 such meters being installed in unmetered properties by 2015, 6,300 leaks will be automatically detected.

As the average leak in a customer’s pipe is responsible for the estimated loss of 1,200 litres of water per day, repairing these leaks will save 7.6 million litres of water a day – enough to meet the needs of nearly 60,000 people or a town the size of Ashford.

Meters are vital to help preserve water resources because their installation generally results in customers substantially cutting their water use. On the Isle of Wight, for example, where nearly every property is metered, water consumption has dropped from 165 litres per person a day to 135 litres – a substantial saving of 18 per cent.

By this rule of thumb, installing meters in half a million properties by 2015 means over a million people will each be saving 30 litres per person a day – representing a huge total saving of over 30 million litres of water a day, more than enough to meet the needs of Worthing, Eastbourne and Bognor Regis combined.

Water meters also encourage customers to be more fuel efficient because changing their habits to save water also saves them energy and money. More than 20% of domestic energy bills are for heating water.

Southern Water is providing customers with practical advice on how to save water - from simple tips such as turning off the tap when brushing your teeth to full home water audits – plus information on the various tariffs available.

Southern Water customers can conduct a water audit of their homes by visiting www.yourwatermeter.co.uk where there is also information on how to obtain price discounts on water-saving products.

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