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Better Water Management for Businesses

Updated on March 30, 2020
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Ellie is a Glasgow-based writer who loves to write about a variety of topics including travel, business, finance, DIY, beauty or fashion.

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Water bills. If you work for a business, you may not pay much attention to them. If you run a business, you’re going to continually be looking at ways to keep them as low as possible.

No one likes having to pay bills, especially for something as simple as water, even if it is something that comes as a convenience. There is so much more going on in a business that there usually isn't time to make sure staff are being responsible when they run a tap, or that owners have the time to take a step back, go through a bill item by item, and see where in the water bill too much money is being spent.

There are areas on a business water bill that many companies will pay without knowing what they are, why it costs money, and what can be done to keep those bills as low as possible. And while it can look like a foreign language when going through a bill, when you know what the main big spenders are, and how to adjust them, you should be able to lower or at least control costs.

Here are just some of the features to look out for, and what business owners can do to make necessary improvements.


Know If Your Supplier Is The Right Supplier

This is a very important tip for any business that moves into premises that another company vacated: double check who the water supplier is, and if you can switch.

Many people don’t know that you have the right, when there’s competition in your area, to choose which water provider you pay bills to. A little like electric and internet, there is competition out there between companies who take on contracts from the local water authority and provide these services. Most people will just settle for the convenience of sticking with a provider, but it’s vital to know that you should be able to switch without interruption to services.

In fact, just phoning up your existing supplier to tell them you’re thinking of moving should see them panic and apply a discount. In fact, if you get on the phone to your supplier, make sure you talk to them about:

  • if your tariff can be lowered and locked in for a certain period

  • If your provider will give you smart meter installation free of charge

  • if your provider will send a representative out for a water audit

  • If your water provider can consolidate bills (when you have multiple properties)

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Know What Wastewater Is

When you wash dishes, wash your hands or have a shower, you’re creating wastewater.

Wastewater is simply any form of water that has been used and is going to be returned into the local system. Because the local authority then has to clean that water and get it safe to use again, companies have to pay a certain degree of wastewater charges on their bills.

Usually, this is estimated based on similar businesses and what they use, so check you’re not getting put in a category that doesn’t reflect the truth. It’s a good idea to chat with neighbouring businesses and see if they’re also getting water from the same provider. For example, if your business was a laundrette and there was an office next door, you’d expect to pay vastly different amounts for wastewater.

You both might find out your provider is matching rates (some will do this based on location) and they’ve grossly overestimated wastewater and will be able to lower the cost on your bill.

Know That Trade Effluent Is Different

Anything that goes down the drain is wastewater, right? Well not if it is considered trade effluent.

Business water provider Castle Water defines trade effluent as “any liquid waste (effluent) discharged into the sewers from a business or industrial process.”

That would include liquids such as:

  • Food waste

  • Solids

  • Oils

  • Detergents

  • Fats

Essentially, if it isn’t water or wastewater that was used to clean people and things, it is trade effluent. Just like checking you have the right water supplier, double-check to see if your bill covers wastewater and trade effluent effectively.

You don’t want to be getting charged for waste that is miscategorised, and it’s important if you operate any processing or industrial building that waste is getting charged accordingly, in case the local council finds you to be mismanaging water – creating a knock-on effect for bills.

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Know That It Doesn’t Have To Be A Guessing Game

Have a bill where the meter reading was estimated based on historical use? Or do you have a business with an estimated tariff and you know someone from the water company has never once been out to check what the meter says?

Many water companies won’t spend much money or resources in getting meters manually checked around bill time, as it’s best just to overestimate and keep bills at a steady pace. If this is a scenario your business is in, it’s time to get smart and install a smart meter.

Electric water meters can keep track of usage to the penny, and automatically send out meter readings to you and your provider. If you’ve been acting wisely with usage and see it is going down, your water supplier will have to lower your bills accordingly.

Know That You Don’t Have to Overpay for New Connections

If you need a new connection for your business, before going and contacting a plumber, see if your water company will provide someone or cover part of the cost.

The way they see it, you’ll be using more water (higher bills) and they may pitch in with the installation costs. And you’ll want to make sure any new connection is metered correctly, as any connection not verified could see tariffs skyrocket if undeclared.

Looking for More Handy Advice On Saving Costs When Running a Business?

I hope you found this short article on business water informative and handy in helping you save some money on your bills.

And if you’re running your own business, make sure you check out all the latest business posts from the blog right here.

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      8 weeks ago from UK

      I had no idea water billing could be so complex. This is an enlightening and helpful article.

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