Water meters

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

When you pay for water with your council tax, the amount you pay is based on your council tax band and not how much water you use. 

If you choose to get a water meter, you will only pay for the amount of water you use.

Is a water meter right for you

Scottish Water can install a water meter to measure how much water you use from the mains supply. 

A water meter can help you keep track of how much water you're using. You might instead want to check the water usage calculator on the Scottish Water website

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.

You’ll need the owner’s permission to install a meter.

Costs of installing a water 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

There might also be future costs, after installation, if the meter needs to be replaced or repaired due to damage.

Will you save money on your water bill

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.

Charges you'll pay with a water meter

Scottish Water will send you a bill for metered water charges. You should get a bill every 3 months.

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.

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

You have to apply to Scottish Water to ask for a water meter to be installed.

There is more information about how to apply for a water meter on the Scottish Water website.

A copy of the application form as well as a list of installation and survey charges can be downloaded from the Scottish Water 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 on dealing with your debts. You can also get help from a money adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Damage to the water meter

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 might be able to claim against your home insurance or any special insurance you have with a utilities company.

The cost of replacement might be less than the insurance premium you have to pay.

Read more about claiming against your home insurance

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 but you might want a meter to check how much water you're getting from the private source.

There's more information about private water supplies on the Scottish Government website.

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.