This information applies to Scotland only.
This page has information about water meters for homes in Scotland. You can find out if a meter is right for you, how to get one installed and what happens if it gets damaged.
Scottish Water provides the public water supply in Scotland.
Scottish Water can install a water meter to measure how much water you use from the mains supply. Only Scottish Water can supply the meter because they own the pipes that the meter attaches to.
You might want a meter to help you keep track of how much water you're using. Scottish Water's calculator can help.
Before you apply for a meter, think about:
- if you can pay for installation
- if you'll save money on your bills.
You should also bear in mind that once a meter is installed, it can't be removed.
If you don't own your home, for example if you're renting, you'll need the owner's consent to install a meter.
Scottish Water will provide a standard meter for free, but you'll need to pay the costs of fitting it. This can include costs for:
- a Scottish Water survey - to check if your home is suitable. You pay when you apply for a meter
- installation - this varies depending on the type and size of the meter
- building, joinery and plumbing - if changes are needed to your property to fit the meter.
You can find details of the current installation costs on the Scottish Water website. These costs can change annually.
There might also be future costs, after installation, if the meter needs to be replaced or repaired due to damage.
Consumers in England and Wales may not have to pay to have a meter installed.
When you pay for water and sewerage with your council tax, the amount you pay is based on your council tax band, not how much water you use.
Using a meter might encourage you to use less water, but it won't necessarily be cheaper because you'll have:
- installation costs
- other ongoing charges to pay - on top of how much water you use
- a fluctuating water bill - you might use more water if your circumstances change, for example if more people move into your home.
You should check these costs against what you're currently paying for water. This will be on your council tax bill.
You should also be aware that if you have a metered supply you won't benefit from a discount, reduction or exemption that would be applied to your council tax bill.
Scottish Water will send you a bill for metered water charges.
You don't just pay for the water you use. The charges you get from Scottish Water are complicated because they may include:
- an annual fixed charge for services
- charges for the water you've used - this is measured per cubic metre (1,000 litres) and assumes that 95% of the water is returned through the sewerage system
- property and roads drainage charges - for dealing with rainwater. These are based on your council tax band.
There's a guide to metered charges on the Scottish Water website. You can also contact Scottish Water's helpline. These charges can change annually, so think about whether you could afford to pay if they increase in the future.
How to get a water meter installed
If you've decided that getting a meter installed is right for you, there are four steps to follow.
Step 1: Apply to Scottish Water
You have to apply to Scottish Water to ask for a meter to be installed. Scottish Water has to check if installing a meter would mean that your service from it still meets the correct standards.
You can print out and complete an application form from the Scottish Water website. You'll have to pay a survey fee straight away with your application.
Step 2: Get permission and organise with Scottish Water
If Scottish Water agrees to your application, they can provide the water meter. You or your landlord has to organise the space for the meter and any alterations required to the place where it has to be installed.
If you need to have pipework reorganised, you have to pay for it, although Scottish Water or one of their agents will do the work.
Step 3: Have the meter installed
Once the water meter is installed, it's still the property of Scottish Water. You'll receive a bill for the water you use every three months from Scottish Water, based on the meter readings.
Step 4: Tell your council
Scottish Water has your council tax reference number, so they should inform the council that you have a private water meter and are paying Scottish Water for your water supply.
You can also inform your council of the change to make sure it doesn't continue to add the charge to your council tax bill.
If you can't pay your water meter charges
If you're in arrears for your metered water charges, Scottish Water will send you a reminder and then a final notice. Scottish Water can take action against you to recover the debt.
If the water meter gets damaged, you or your landlord will have to pay for it to be repaired or replaced. This includes frost damage.
You may be able to claim against your home insurance or any special insurance you have with a utilities company.
The cost of replacement may be less than the insurance premium you have to pay.
If you have a private water supply
If you have a private water supply, you don't need a meter to assess how much you have to pay, because you don't pay the council for your water. But you may want a meter to check how much water you're getting from the private source.
You may not be able to install a water meter to a private water supply for physical reasons.
The council's environmental health department may be able to help you measure how much water you get from the supply.
There's more information about private water supplies on the Scottish Government website.
If you're not getting enough water for the needs of your household, you may need to ask Scottish Water to connect you to the mains supply.
If you rent the property, you'll need to ask the landlord to investigate connecting you to the mains water supply.
Removing a water meter
If your property already has a water meter, you can't have it removed, unless you replace it with another meter.