Frequently asked questions

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Take a look at our most commonly asked questions about water meters.

About smart meters

Smart meters allow you to automatically track the amount of water you use, giving you greater visibility and control over your usage and water bill. Meters also allow us to better understand where the water is going to find and fix leaks more quickly. 
Yes, we're fitting water meters for all our customers starting in London. 
Our neighbouring water companies, including Southern Water, Affinity Water and South East Water, have started metering all their customers because the South East is classed as seriously water stressed. Southern Water have seen 60 per cent of their customers have either benefited financially straight away or have seen their bills stay the same from being on a water meter. 
Yes. Public Health England (PHE) has advised that the radio waves produced by smart meters do not pose a risk to health. Our smart meters are low powered, similar to a TV remote control and comply with UK and EU safety regulations. More information on what they have said can be read here.
Very. We take data protection very seriously. All data collected from your meter will be kept on our secure database in compliance with the Data Protection Act. It won’t be shared with any organisations, unless they are working on our behalf. For more information on data privacy see our data protection page or our  privacy policy

Why smart meters?

Yes, there are real concerns about the lack of water in London and the Thames Valley, and we have legal powers to fit water meters at all properties in our region.
We have the right to fit meters under the Water Industry Act 1991 section 162, under our Resources Management Plan for 2015 - 2040. This act grants permission for water companies to meter domestic premises on a compulsory basis in areas which have been determined by the Secretary of State to be of serious water stress (this includes our region). We will always try to fit your meter outside where we can. However, in some cases this may not be possible, so we’d need to fit your meter inside your property. We will make an appointment with you to do this. 
Our forecasts show that if we do nothing, by 2020 there will be a shortfall of 133 million litres of water per day, that’s the equivalent needed by 850,000 people. Smart meters are an important part of our plan to protect water supplies for future generations, giving greater visibility and control to our customers to better understand and manage their water use. 
No. For some customers their bill will increase, while for others their bill will decrease. 

Saving water

Meters make it easier to see how and where water is being used so we can all be as efficient as possible. Our research shows that customers on a meter typically use around 12% less water. Meters also allow us to easily spot where there is a leak so we can fix it as quickly as possible. 
There are lots of ways to save water and energy in your home, visit our water saving calculator and find out more. 

If water is continually flowing through your meter you may have a leak. If you have a leak on your supply pipe (which runs from the boundary to the point it enters your property), we may fix this free of charge terms and conditions apply.

We will write to you as soon as your meter readings are ready to view online, you’ll be able to see your water use and also get help and advice on how to save water, energy and money, as well as monitor what your metered bills could be.  Your water use will also be shown on your comparison letters or you can call us to find out how much you’re using.

Fitting your meter

We aim to fit your meter in the footpath outside your home so it can be fitted and maintained without disturbing you. This will be done roughly four weeks after we write to you, you do not need to be home for this.

If this isn’t possible for example our pipework is shared with a neighbour, we may need an appointment with you to look for an alternative place to fit your meter. This could be next to your internal stop tap. If this is the case we will call you to arrange a convenient time to carry out this work.

Once your meter is fitted we’ll leave you a leaflet giving you all the information you need about your new meter, including ways to help you save water, energy and money. Once your meter readings are ready to view online we’ll write to you and let you know.

Where possible we try and fit meters in the pavement outside your home. It will take 2-3 days to fit a meter box in the pavement and clear the road and we’ll be back a few days later to screw the meter into the new box. 

If it’s not possible to fit your meter outside we’ll book an appointment with you to find a suitable place inside your home or garden, this is usually next to your inside stop tap. Appointments usually take no more than an hour and we have morning, afternoon and evening slots available. 

The meter is a little bit bigger than a drinks can and shows your water use on the top. If we’re fitting the meter inside your home, there may also need to be some additional small pipes around your meter.
We will aim to fit your smart meter outside so you won’t need to be at home. If we’re unable to fit your meter outside, we’ll be in touch to book an appointment with you to find an alternative location.
If you have requested a meter in the past but were unable to have one fitted, we’ll check again for you. 
We’ll try to come back at a different time. If we miss you again and we need an appointment with you, we’ll leave a card asking you to get in touch to book your appointment.

It isn't always possible to fit a water meter at homes due to plumbing and access restrictions. If this is the case, we’ll move you to a tariff that reflects the amount of water used by customers with a similar sized property. 

If you applied for a meter then you will receive information about your new tariff within 2 weeks of our visit.

If your meter was installed as part of the compulsory programme you will stay on your current tariff for two years unless you choose to switch early.

More information about those tariffs are available here.

For most people the answer is no. But if you have had your tenancy agreement for less than six months, you do need your landlord’s permission.
No, but you may wish to let them know. The meter will be fitted under our statutory powers.

When we install new meters we fit them in the most suitable place to accurately measure your water use.

However we realise there may be times when you want to move your meter. For example if you are renovating or you’ve recently changed the plumbing or pipework in your home.

If your meter is fitted inside your home we can carry out a survey to assess if it could be relocated outside. Please note we will not move an external meter nearer to the property.

If you’d like to find out more about re-locating the meter inside your home please call us on 0800 980 8800 and explain you want a survey to see if it’s possible to re-site your internal meter.

What happens next?

  • You’ll get an invoice from us asking you to pay a fee for a survey.
  • Once you have paid the fee, we will book in your survey appointment.
  • If the surveyor finds that your internal meter can be moved, we’ll provide you with a quote to do the work.
  • If you’d like to go ahead with the work based on our quote, you need to pay for it first and then we’ll book an appointment with you to move your meter.

Your bill

You can estimate how much your metered bill will be by looking at your usage and occupancy. Visit Your bill explained or use our water saving calculator to find out more

If you applied for a meter you’ll receive your first metered bill within 6 months.

If your meter was installed as part of the compulsory programme you will stay on your current tariff for two years unless you choose to switch early. We’ll send you comparison letters at 3, 6, 12 and 18 months so you can compare your current bill to your metered bill. 

No, we’ll fit it for free. 

Unmetered customers bills are based on the rateable value of their property. This is an old system, introduced before council tax banding, which can differ significantly between properties. Meters are a fairer way to pay, as you only pay for what you use. All new homes built since 1989 have been fitted with meters.
We’ll send you regular comparison letters too so if you don't have access to the internet you'll still be able to see how much water you’re using and how a meter could affect your bill.

Also in this section

Why are we fitting meters What is a smart meter Your metered bill Savings made simple Joint Southern Water customers