What is the average water bill per month? Calculated costs

Water bills explained, plus how you can save on costs

When you receive a utility bill, it’s usually fairly clear to see what you’re been billed for and how the total you’re being charged has been calculated. With water bills, it’s slightly more complicated. It can be hard to work out what your water bill average should be.

When we turn on the tap, take a shower, turn on the dishwasher… do we really appreciate what doing those things will add to our monthly bill? And when that bill arrives how do you know if you’re getting good value for money?

How would you know if you are paying too much? Should your bill really be that high? Perhaps you're using too much water? And how does your water usage and bills compare with those of your neighbours? And what is the average water bill anyway?!

So if you’re looking for a utility bills guide and want to get your head around how your water bill average works, here we explain exactly what comes together to make up your water bill and how to make sure you’re not paying more than you should.

What is the average UK water bill per month?

According to Water UK (opens in new tab) which represents the major water companies in the UK the average water bill for the 2021/22 financial year is £408.

bathroom with bathtub and wall tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Brent Darby)

There is no one single rate for water use across the UK. The amount households are billed depends on a number of factors so it’s important to realise that a household in one part of the country may find themselves paying a different amount than a similar sized home in another region.

That said, individual water companies can look across their customer base as a whole and see roughly what the average household might pay.

Regan Harris from Anglian Water (opens in new tab) says: ‘For our customers in 2021/2022, the average unmetered water bill is £422 for the year, or just £1.16 a day, with metered customers who only pay for what they use saving even more.’

How is a water bill average calculated?

There are a number of factors which have an effect on how bills are calculated. Shona England-Lees from Yorkshire Water explains: ‘Customers with a water meter are charged based on the water they use, and customers without a meter are charged based on their property’s rateable value.’

Regan from Anglian Water explains: ‘If you have a meter, you pay for the amount of water you use. This is recorded on your water meter and we send you a bill for the amount of water you have used since your previous bill.

If you don't have a water meter, we calculate your bill using the rateable value of your home, which is based on differing factors including the size of your home and the number of rooms and your local amenities.’

Shona from Yorkshire Water adds: ‘Most water bills pay for clean and waste water services. That includes supplying clean water to the customer’s home, and taking waste water away. It also includes surface water and a standing charge which covers rainwater taken away by the public sewer and management of the account.’

dishwasher under white worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

How do companies determine the water rates in the UK?

Regan from Anglian Water explains: ‘Charges are regulated by Ofwat, who set rules that water companies must follow. Ofwat.gov.uk (opens in new tab) regulates the price, investment and service package that customers receive from each water company. This ensures consumers’ interests are balanced, alongside the need the company has to invest in maintenance, improvements and day-to-day delivery of water and sewerage services. As well as ensuring we protect the environment and plan for the future, too.’

What is the average water usage per month?

According to Water UK, The average person in the UK uses 142 litres of water a day. So, over four weeks the average water usage per month works out at around 4000 litres. Effectively, an average family of four in the UK are likely to use more than 500 litres every day.

Have water charges changed recently?

As mentioned, water charges are regulated by Ofwat and they are reviewed each year in April. With the effects of the pandemic in 2020, it’s expected that the price cap which currently regulates what water companies can charge customers could be raised in April 2022.

Why is my water bill higher than usual?

‘That can depend on factors like usage, whether you have a water meter installed or not, or the rateable value of your home if you are unmetered,’ explains Regan from Anglian Water.

‘The amount you pay depends on a number of things,’ suggests Shona from Yorkshire Water. ‘For example, what type of bill you get (for instance, paperless), how much water you use, the services you pay for and whether you have a meter or not. We often find that customers can save money by switching to a meter. If you get a water meter and then change your mind, you have two years to switch back.’

Factors that could increase your monthly water bill

If you notice a jump in your water bill it’s worth investigating what might be behind the increase. Some factors worth considering are:

  • Warm weather – Are you having to water your garden with a hose/sprinkler? Have you been filling a paddling pool? Have you been taking more showers to cool down.
  • Leaky or running toilet – Listen for a hissing sound that might point to a leaking cistern. One way of checking for a leak is to put a couple of drops of food colouring in the cistern tank. Wait for 10-15 mins and then check the toilet bowl for any signs of the coloured dye.
  • House guests – More people at any one point staying at your house will inevitably lead to an increase in water consumption.
  • A leak inside or outside your property – If you suspect a leak make sure there are no water-using appliances running and that nobody is running any taps, flushing the toilet, etc… Take a reading from your water meter (if you have one). Wait for 30 mins and then read the meter again. If the numbers have changed there is a good chance you might have a leak and you should get in touch with your water company to have it investigated.

white kitchen with worktop

(Image credit: Future PL/David Parmiter)

How can I reduce my water bill?

‘We all need water and use it in so many ways around the home.’ says Brian Horne, Senior Insights & Analytics Consultant at Energy Saving Trust. ‘Through cooking, washing our hands, showering and bathing, the litres soon add up.

‘If you’re on a water meter, saving water can reduce your water bill,' adds Brian. Also reducing energy use, plus; 'reduce the impact on your local environment and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using less energy to pump, heat and treat the water.’

Brian suggests the following tips to reduce your consumption and therefore, bills:

Tips to reduce water bills

  • Keep your shower time to just 4 minutes could save a four-person household £75 a year on their energy bills and a further £105 on their water bills if they have a water meter - £180 total saving for a four-person household.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it is full to reduce the amount of water you use. Reducing your dishwasher by one run per week for a year could save you money.
  • Only wash your clothes in your washing machine when you have a full load. Reducing your washing machine use by one run per week for a year could save you £10 a year on your energy bills and 12kg of CO2, equivalent to driving 43 miles – Edinburgh to Glasgow.
  • Fit an aerator onto your existing kitchen tap to reduce the amount of water coming out without affecting its effectiveness. An aerator is a small gadget with tiny holes - they attach to the spout of taps and are cheap and easy to install. This could save you £14 on your annual energy bills and 65kg of CO2, equivalent to driving 230 miles – London to Bristol and back again.
  • Fitting a water efficient shower head could save a four-person household £35 a year on energy bills. And around £45 off water bills if they have a water meter.
  • Using a bowl to wash up rather than a running tap can save you money on your energy and water bills if you have a water meter. You only need to run a typical tap for 95 seconds to fill a washing up bowl. A running tap wastes more than three litres of water a minute. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face to save water.

'A dripping tap can waste more than 5,500 litres of water a year. Make sure your taps are properly turned off and change washers promptly when taps start to drip.’

Ginevra Benedetti
Ginevra Benedetti

Ginevra Benedetti has been the Deputy Editor of Ideal Home magazine since 2021. With a career in magazines spanning nearly twenty years, she has worked for the majority of the UK’s interiors magazines, both as staff and as a freelancer. She first joined the Ideal Home team in 2011, initially as the Deputy Decorating Editor and has never left! She currently oversees the publication of the brand’s magazine each month, from planning through to publication, editing, writing or commissioning the majority of the content.