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Understanding your water bill

Unlike electricity, you can’t choose to switch water supplier. That means that the most important decision to make is how you pay.

  • Unmetered: Pay a fixed monthly amount based on your home's size. Rates are calculated in roughly the same way as council tax and your bill will be based on your home's ‘rateable value’. You will pay the same amount each month (or six months) regardless of how much water you use.
  • Metered: Only pay for the water you use (measured by a water meter). The size of the bill will depend on your consumption and will be measured in cubic metres or feet.

For each method there are a variety of payment options including direct debit, cash, cheque, credit/debit card, payment card or online, and these can be paid in either weekly, fortnightly, monthly, biannual instalments or paid in full. There is also the option to pay these bills in a range of locations including banks, post offices, and paypoint/payzone outlets.


In many places water and sewerage are billed together, meaning that you will only need to pay one company for both services. However, in some areas you may receive two separate bills.

Sewerage charge is for:

  • Taking away waste water from your home.
  • Taking away surface water (i.e. rain water that falls around and on your house and runs down the drain).
  • Draining the roads and streets in your area.

Expensive water bills

You won't be able to save money by changing your water supplier but there are a number of other ways to save on water.

Unmetered customers:

You could save money by having a water meter installed. This will depend on how much water you use and how much you currently pay for unmetered water. A rough rule of thumb is that if there are more bedrooms than people in your house, consider getting a meter.

If you are thinking about switching to a meter (which your water supplier will install free of charge in England and Wales) you can use this calculator from the Consumer Council for Water to estimate how much you can save.

You could also contact your water supplier to see what help they offer.

Metered customers:

  • Cut your water consumption. Tips here.
  • Send meter readings to your supplier if they send bills with estimated readings.

Help with paying bills

If you live in the Wessex Water area and have a water debt or are struggling to afford your repayments please contact us as we can help you apply for support.

Here's a map showing Wessex Water's distribution area:

There are a number of schemes that can help:

  • Restart: if you can afford to pay for your ongoing usage but not your debt repayments.
  • Assist: if you are in extreme financial difficulty and cannot afford your water bill.
  • WaterSure Plus: if you are on a meter and you live in a low income household with unavoidably high water use.
  • Flexi plan: short term help; pay less than you need for a fixed period of time.
  • Pension credit discount: 20% off your water bill if all adults in your house receive Pension Credit.
  • Water Direct: if you are in debt with your water bill and are in receipt of specific benefits you could pay the arrears directly from your benefits.

CC image of water meter courtesy of Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr

Need more help?

Depending on where you live and who you buy your energy from, we can help you with grants and support

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This information is available as a freely downloadable PDF from this page.

For more domestic energy advice, view all our advice pages.