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Haslemere first to switch to smart water meters

Tuesday 19th January 2021 11:30

Thames Water engineer holding a smart water meter

Homes in Haslemere will be the first outside of London to receive smart meters to help Thames Water manage future demand for water. 

The meters, which use the latest smart technology, help detect hidden leaks and are proven to reduce demand for water by up to 13 per cent. They’re being rolled out as part of Thames Water’s plans to ensure it can provide water for the next 80 years as population growth and climate change continue to put pressure on natural resources.

News of the meters follows a Thames Water announcement last summer that it will invest £55 million over the next five years to improve the resilience of Guildford’s water supply, including Haslemere. Last June, several homes were without water for around 24 hours when household use rocketed by 20 per cent due to a combination of coronavirus lockdown and hot weather.

Mark Cooper, head of metering at Thames Water, said: “Water is one of life’s essentials and we want all our customers to have a reliable supply now and into the future. We’re already making our treatment sites and pipe network more resilient, but in areas like Haslemere where water use is above average smart meters are a game changer.

“If we have a better idea how much water our customers are using, it means we can predict how much we’ll need in the future. This helps us plan and make investments where they’re needed most, including fixing leaks.”

Haslemere will be the first area in the Thames Water region outside London to get smart meters for all suitable properties. Households in line for one will be contacted by post within the next few weeks, with the company expecting to install around 3,000 in total between February and June. Homes that currently have a non-smart meter will be contacted first about their existing meter being upgraded to a smart version. In the majority of cases meters are fitted outside homes and installers do not need to enter properties meaning work can still take place safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Following a meeting with Thames Water’s CEO in December, South West Surrey MP, Jeremy Hunt, said he was “heartened” to learn about Thames Water’s plans, while Waverley Borough Councillor, Simon Dear, said the company seemed “determined to improve matters for residents and businesses alike in the future”. 

Cllr Dear added: “We know that smart meters detect hidden leaks, reduce demand for water, and can be rolled out relatively quickly to help alleviate problems while the longer-term plans for improved supply are implemented."

Typically, households with a meter use around 13 per cent less water than unmetered homes because they pay for what they use and not a flat rate, just like energy. High using households will be offered a free water use audit by Thames Water experts who check how water efficient their home is and install water-saving gadgets to help them use less water and reduce their bills.

The whole Thames Water region is expected to have smart meters by 2035. The company is forecasting a shortfall of 387 million litres of water a day by 2045, increasing to 688 million litres of water a day by 2100 which is a quarter of the water it currently supplies, if no action is taken.

For more information and frequently asked questions about smart water meters visit the metering pages of the Thames Water website.