Take a look at our most commonly asked questions about water meters.
About smart meters
What are the benefits of a smart meter?
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.
Will everyone be getting a smart meter?
Yes, we're fitting water meters for all our customers starting in London.
Are people across the country getting water meters?
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.
Are smart meters safe?
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.
How secure is the data collected from my smart meter?
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.
What data does a Thames Water smart meter collect?
Your smart meter will only record the amount of water your home has used each hour. Once your meter is activated you can see this data on your online account.
How is the data collected on my water use?
Smart meters send frequent and automatic hourly readings through a secure wireless network every four hours (each transmission contains the last twelve hours of data). If for any reason your meter is unable to connect to the network, we will try to get it back online but if we can’t, we will send out someone to read the meter each time your bill is due.
Why do you collect smart meter data?
We use the smart meter data to:
- Allow you to view your water use online.
- Give you control over your bill as you’ll only pay for the water you use.
- Find and fix leaks quickly on both your supply pipe (the pipe that connects your home to the main supply pipe in the street) and our network.
- Make decisions on our network such as pressure and pipe size.
- Measure the impact of our smart metering programme at a customer and network level
Who has access to this data and why?
Only certain people in Thames Water and those working on our metering programme can use the data on water use. We do not allow anyone to combine the hourly usage data and your personal account information, unless you have asked us to or there is urgent action required, such as a leak. We never sell your data to third parties or use it for marketing without your agreement. We do use some third parties to manage parts of our metering processes, who follow the same data privacy policies.
How is the data stored?
Your water use data is stored in a secure database, separate from personal data relating to your account.
How long do you keep my data?
Your water use data is stored on our secure database for a minimum of two years. This allows us to measure the impact of our smart metering programme. After this period, we summarise the data and keep it for our long-term planning.
How do you secure my data?
We take the security of our network very seriously and complete independent assessments and tests on the security of our network to make sure data is protected.
Why smart meters?
Do I have to have a meter?
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.
What legal powers do you have to fit the meter?
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.
Why are you fitting smart meters?
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.
Will you make more money as a result of installing meters?
No. For some customers their bill will increase, while for others their bill will decrease.
How do water meters save 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.
How else can I save water?
There are lots of ways to save water and energy in your home, visit our water saving calculator and find out more.
What happens if I have a leak at my property?
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.
How do I know how much water I’m using?
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
I’ve requested a meter – what happens next?
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 your 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.
Need help finding your inside stop valve? This short video can help.
How long does it take to fit a water meter?
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.
How big is the water meter?
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.
Do I have to be at home when you fit my 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.
I’ve been told in the past that it is not possible to fit a meter at my property, is this still the case?
If you have requested a meter in the past but were unable to have one fitted, we'll check again for you.
What happens if you can’t fit a water meter at my property?
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 you were visited as part of the compulsory programme, and you’ll pay less on the new tariff, you will be switched on to this tariff straight away. If you would pay more you’ll stay on your current tariff for one year before being switched.
I am a tenant, do I need my landlord’s permission to ask for a meter fitting?
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.
I’m a tenant, do I need my landlord’s permission to have a meter fitted under the compulsory programme?
No, but you may wish to let them know. The meter will be fitted under our statutory powers.
Can I move my meter?
We realise there may be times when you want to move your meter. For example if you’re renovating or you’ve recently changed the plumbing or pipework in your home.
If your meter is fitted inside your home or in your garden, we can usually move it. This is a chargeable service, and is subject to a successful survey. Please note, we will not move a meter in your garden nearer to your property.
How it works:
1. Call 0800 980 8800 to request a survey
We’ll call you back within 10 working days to discuss your request.
2. Pay the £72 survey fee
Once you’ve paid, we’ll book your survey appointment.
3. Complete survey
If the survey finds that your meter can be moved, we’ll provide you with a quote for the work. Occasionally, it may not be possible to move your meter.
4. Complete the meter move
If you’d like to go ahead with the work, you’ll need to pay upfront. Once you’ve paid, we’ll book an appointment for the meter to be moved.
Will my meter be replaced?
Yes, we’ll replace your meter with a new one when we move it. Please note that we’re rolling out smart meters across our region, starting in London. If you don’t live in London, we’ll fit a meter that sends automatic readings every 6 months.
How do I know if I’ll save money by switching to a meter?
When will my bill change to a metered bill?
We’ll send you a letter to confirm when you have been switched to a metered account. That is the point when your unmetered bill will finish and your new metered bill will begin.
Do I have to pay for my meter to be fitted?
No, we’ll fit it for free.
How is my current unmetered bill currently worked out?
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.
I don’t have access to the internet, how can I monitor my water consumption?
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.