The water bill jargon buster – Understanding your water bill

Dec 15, 2022 | Articles, Bills, Water

Understanding your water bill is key to being sure you’re paying the right amount for your services. We’ve put together this water bill jargon buster to make things easier. Look below for definitions of the key terms you’re likely to find on your bill. 

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Understanding your water bill


Assessed Charges

To understand your bill, you need to know whether it’s based on Assessed Charges, Metered Charges or Unmetered Charges. Assessed charges are used if you request a Water Meter but it’s impossible to have fitted. Under assessed charges, you pay the same standing charge as you would on other tariffs, and a fixed monthly charge. The charge is based on the size and occupancy of the property, and the average bills in the area.

Switching to Assessed or Metered Charges may save you money, but it could raise your bills. Find out more in our ‘would installing a water meter save you money?’ guide.

Domestic Use

This refers to water being used in a home. If your home water bill refers to commercial use then contact your water supplier immediately.

Leakage Allowance

If your water bills are higher than usual, ask your water company to check for a leak. Your supplier must reimburse you for any extra charges you pay because of leakage. You’ll get the money back as credits on your water bill. These credits are called the Leakage Allowance. You can claim your credit once the leak has been repaired, and your water supplier should send you the information on how to do so.

Metered Charges

Metered charges are based on your Water Meter readings. If you are a metered customer, you’ll pay a fixed annual fee split between your bills called the standing charge and a volumetric charge for each cubic metre of water you use.


Ofwat is the regulatory organisation for water in the UK. They make sure that every water supplier offers the same level of service and charges their customers a fair price. You can read more about what Ofwat does here.

Unmetered Charges

If you have no Water Meter fitted, or if it’s inactive, you will be billed based on Unmetered Charges. This means your bills are calculated from a combination of an annual standing charge and a charge based on the value of your property. If you believe you use less water than average, you could save by switching to metered charges.


Wastewater is another term for sewerage, or the water being removed from your property. Your wastewater will often be managed by the same company as your clean water but, in some instances, it is handled by a separate company. When this happens, your main water supplier will set up billing for you with the wastewater service. You’ll receive bills for clean and wastewater by post.

Water Meter

A device fitted in your property that measures the water you’ve used. Your meter will either be fitted in your home or as part of a shared installation outside of your property. If your meter is inside your home you’ll be asked to take a reading regularly and send it to your supplier. External meters are read by your supplier every six months.

Average Water Bill in the UK

This table shows the average combined cost of clean and wastewater from Southern Water in the UK. Your bill will depend on your household size and usage, as well as which water company supplies your area.

Number of Residents Average Annual Cost 2023/24
1 £318
2 £447
3 £577
4 £670
5 £743
6 £817

Source: and this update for 2023/24 figures


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