On this page you can find out about water meters for homes in Scotland. Decide 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.
A water meter can be installed by Scottish Water to measure the amount of water you use from the mains supply. Only Scottish Water can supply the meter because it owns 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 - check the costs
- whether you'll save money on your bills - check how much you'll pay
If you don't own the home, you'll need the owner's consent to install a meter. For example, if you're renting.
In Scotland, 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
Details of the current installation costs are available on the Scottish Water website. They 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, how much 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. Check the charges you'll pay
- a fluctuating water bill - you might use more water if your circumstances change, like 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 when 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) assuming 95% 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 increased in the future.
How to get a water meter installed
Before you start the process of getting a meter installed, check if it's the right thing for you to do.
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 will have to pay a survey fee straight away with your application.
Step 2 - Receive permission and organise with Scottish Water
If it agrees to your application Scottish Water can provide the water meter. You or your landlord have to organise the space for the meter and any alterations required to the place where it has to be installed. If you have to have pipe work reorganised you have to pay for it although Scottish Water or one of their agents will do the work.
Step 3 - Water meter is installed
Once it's installed the water meter is still the property of Scottish Water. You will 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 it 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.
Find your local council on the mygov.scot website.
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 you're in water debt, follow our advice for dealing with your debts.
You can also get help from a money adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If the water meter gets damaged, you (or your landlord) will have to pay for its repair or replacement. This includes if the water meter is damaged by frost.
You may be able to claim against your home insurance or any special insurance you have with the utilities companies.
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 environmental health department may be able to help you to measure how much water you get from the supply.
There's more information about private water supplies on the mygov.scot 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 will need to ask the landlord to investigate getting you connected to the mains water supply. Find out more about getting a water supply.
There's more information about water meters on the Scottish Water website.