What a difference a couple of days make in the world of sustainability news!
First we have the Daily Telegraph front-page “splash” story advising that the Government planned to compel water companies to fit meters for every customer in a third of the country.
According to the story, ministers ruled that reservoirs were at risk of running dry and an order for compulstory meter installation had been approved by Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, which meant some family water bills could double.
That was Saturday morning. Within a few hours, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had issued a fulsome rebuttal of the story and it was not picked up by other media outlets. But that did not stop water from hitting the headlines.
Yesterday, we all heard that Thames Water was asking the Government to allow it to raise prices, apparently to pay for infrastructure work. The meter narrative was also amplified by the news that ministers will announce the contractor who has won a the £1.2 billion pot to deliver communications technology for the Government’s £12bn national energy smart meter programme.
This has the ambitious target of installing smart meters in every home by 2020. Now, whether the Telegraph has a direct line to a prime source and will be proved right about the compulsory water meter installations will be revealed in time. What is certain is that metering and measurement will be an integral part of our daily lives – and sooner rather than later so we need to act now to reduce our use of electricity, water and gas.
While there is evidence that meters can help people manage their consumption better, there is also ample evidence that usage patterns do not change, and the Telegraph story advised: “In some parts of southern England where meters are fitted, annual bills have increased by hundreds of pounds”.
Add to that the costs of installation and the certainty that the utilities companies will continue to push prices higher and faster than the rate of inflation, and the need for us all to be effective utilities managers becomes very urgent.
Remember, too, that water meters are at this very moment being compulsorily installed in parts of the country. As Jessica Shankleman writes in BusinessGreen, Southern Water and South East Water are deploying meters as a compulsory measure. Thames Water expects to put in around half a million between 2015 and 2020. The water meter story has context; shortages.
Currently, and for whatever reasons, there are many areas of the UK where this precious resource is in short supply. That has prompted the debate and decisions around metering. I think it is unlikely that there will be enough investment – in the billions of pounds – to make significant inroads into this challenge, which leaves us with meter … and effective management at the micro level.
People will be rightly worried by the Government’s water-meter plans but there are simple ways to reduce substantially the amount of water we use. It is only a matter of time before water meters are compulsory in every home and business.
People need to act now to cut their water consumption and take simple steps that reduce usage. Fitting devices such as proper tap aerators and eco shower heads seems too easy but these are proven ways to cut water bills. They also save energy and so have a positive impact on the environment by reducing carbon emissions.
People need to choose wisely as not all tap aerators and eco shower heads deliver effective savings. They also need to understand water pressures and what types of taps and showers can be upgraded. But with the right choices and the best advice, they will soon recoup the purchase cost and then go on saving money every day, year after year.
For businesses, the need to cut water bills is increasingly urgent and with the right guidance, companies of all sizes can achieve impressive savings. As an example, a hotel group we work with – Puma Hotels – will save more than £58,000 in the next year through water consumption reductions and £24,000 on energy, simply by fitting tap aerators and eco shower heads in its 24 hotels.
In the first three months following installation, the group is 25 per cent ahead of targets and so on course to achieve a Return on Investment well within the first year. At the same time the company is more environmentally friendly as reduced electricity demand on heating and pumping also reduces the carbon footprint.
The Government should seriously consider a national programme that promotes and supports people who want to cut their water use, so helping them better manage this increasingly precious resource.”
At SaveMoneyCutCarbon, we argue strongly that simple steps can make a huge difference in consumption of energy and water. Every business, every household can invest and save. We’re always happy to advise on the right fittings, water pressures and more – it only take a quick phone call: 0845 123 5464.
Business and consumer alike can make impressive savings on their electricity consumption by choosing to invest in LED lighting, which can deliver reductions of up to 90 per cent. Again, we’re here to help with advice and solutions. You can email us or call 0845 123 5464.