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Demystifying your water bills to help you make substantial savings

Your business water bill not only includes a charge for the units of water your business consumes- there’s a whole host of other fees in there, which you may not be aware of. In fact, it’s highly likely you are being overcharged for one or more of those fees.

Unless you understand exactly what the charges are on your bill, it’s very difficult to come up with a case for being overcharged. But, with the right knowledge, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to dispute or claim back some of the charges included in your water bill. It’s just a matter of being able to spot any discrepancies.

To be fair to water suppliers, any overcharges are unlikely to be deliberate – the onus is on individual businesses to flag anywhere they think they might’ve been charged too much. If you can prove that you have overpaid for a part of your service, water suppliers will often oblige with a rebate.

However, the most effective way of ensuring you’re not overpaying for water is to contact your supplier with all the necessary information and request the charges be amended and backdated for an appropriate refund.

How we helped Southern Farmers Ltd

Southern Farmers Ltd is an agricultural buying group with a membership in excess of 1,000 and is a mutual co-operative operating as a non-profit making organisation.

We began working with Southern Farmers to arrange supply of water to the group, as their members were dissatisfied with the level of service that they were receiving from their previous water supplier.

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Southern Farmers' usage can fluctuate greatly throughout the year – an important thing to take into account when looking for the appropriate service.

We found that their members preferred a more consistent and frequent billing service. Additionally, we worked to ensure that members saved money on their water bills, which was achieved through negotiating enhanced terms including passing on the wholesale price.

The outcome was a total annual saving of £200k across 224 members by consolidating their monthly bills and ensuring more consistent meter readings.

How can you make savings on your water bill?

Water suppliers accept that some commercial sites do not return the majority of their usage to the sewers. The default value that is applied to all businesses is that 95% will be returned to the sewer but this won’t be accurate for all businesses. An obvious example is sports clubs who have to maintain a grass pitch with water. These businesses send less water down the sewer as a lot of their water usage will be to water the pitch.

Water suppliers don't automatically change the allowance based on the business type - it’s down to the customer to request a 'non-return to sewer assessment'. Some providers will want proof of usage and will ask for a sub meter to be placed on the outdoor water source to measure it accurately.

If you return less than the assumed amount to the sewer, you may be able to claim a reduction in your sewerage bill. Utility Team can carry out a comprehensive water bill analysis to check your charges and ensure they are correct.

Surface drain water works in a similar way. Surface water is the rainwater that collects on your building’s roof and drains from your business properties into the sewer. Your supplier collects and treats this surface water, for which it will charge you. If you can prove that the surface rainwater from your property does not drain into the public sewer, you may be entitled to a rebate on your bill from your sewerage company.

If an appropriate assessment of your water is carried out, you’ll be able to spot and query a higher-than-usual bill. If a bill comes in higher, it could mean there’s a leak on the underground supply pipe into your commercial property.

Your supplier should be able to help you detect whether you have a leak and arrange repairs. Additionally, you have important legal rights to have the RSA for that lost water credited to your water bill – this is called a leakage allowance. This allowance is however quite subjective and time sensitive.

Benefiting from market regulation

The deregulation of England’s non-domestic water retail market in 2017 was great news for businesses as it allowed organisations to buy water services from a variety of providers rather than an allocated regional one.

In short, it meant more choice, cheaper prices and consolidated billing. But to obtain these benefits, you need to understand what you’re being charged for and how that tallies against your consumption - a non-return to sewer assessment is just one way to cut the cost of water - as well as being prepared to switch to the cheapest and best suppliers.

This is not something that all businesses are currently set up to do. That’s where Utility Team can add significant value. We take the hassle away by switching and managing your water supply on your behalf.

You could be enjoying savings within weeks – we just need a few details from your water bill to kick start the process. Get in touch today to provide those details and we will outline the kind of savings you can expect to see.

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