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Expert water-saving advice moves online during lockdown

Friday 22nd January 2021 09:30

Thames Water employee on the phone to a customer

Water-saving experts from Thames Water are spending the latest lockdown glued to their phones as they help hundreds of customers save water and money.

The company’s award-winning smarter home visits, which normally see advisors visit high water using homes, have been suspended during lockdown to keep customers and staff safe. Instead, they’re arranging telephone or video calls with customers so they can start making savings, which for families spending more time at home can make a huge difference. 

Around 500 calls have already taken place or are booked for January, with the figure rising daily as the team gears up to make around 100 calls a day.

Alice Hill, from Thames Water’s water efficiency team, said: “The pressures of the pandemic and especially lockdown mean it’s more important than ever we support those customers on meters to make savings and keep their bills and water use down. 

“We’re targeting customers whose water use is higher than average as typically they make much bigger savings, often of more than 100 litres per day on average. This not only saves them money on their bills but means we need to take and treat less water from the environment, leaving more to help wildlife thrive.”

During the virtual calls the advisors ask a series of questions to help with a bespoke water assessment of the household, including how many people live there, how often they take a shower or bath and how often the washing machine gets used. Customers then get tailored advice on how to save water, are sent a bespoke water saving report and are sent suitable devices for showers, taps and toilets which are simple to install themselves. They then receive a second phone call to talk them through installing the devices. They can track their water use through their online Thames Water account which logs daily meter readings, and hopefully see their use and bills go down.

Thames Water first trialled telephone and online smarter home visits in May 2020 before re-starting in-home visits in September for those customers that wanted them, while still offering phone and online visits for others. Since May the team has delivered almost 2,000 virtual visits in the largest virtual water efficiency programme in the UK water sector.

Alice added: “Feedback from customers on the virtual visits has been brilliant with lots of lovely comments about how friendly and helpful our team members are. At the end of the day who doesn’t want to save money on their bills? People are so grateful for the advice.”

To date, Thames Water has installed more than 400,000 smart water meters in London and, from February will install the first smart meters outside the capital in Haslemere, Surrey. The company expects to have all suitable homes in its region on smart meters by 2035.