Premium charges for water in the summer? Are they taking the puddle?
There's always a pay off for everything isn't there. Following our glorious spring, with the driest March and April since 1938, the water companies are already thinking about hosepipe bans and implementing a cunning new scheme to charge a premium for water used during the summer months of June, July and August. The Government are expected to officially back this scheme, and encourage more metering later this year.
Water demand rises by up to 30 per cent in these months and water companies contend that penalty rates would be a cheaper way of matching supply and demand than, say, building more reservoirs and desalination plants. Seasonal tariffs would reduce the risk of general hosepipe bans because higher prices can conserve supplies by persuading people to let their lawns go brown, install water butts and take shorter showers, according to the industry.
Wessex Water, one of several water companies conducting trials, found that even smaller seasonal price increasesresulted in a significant reduction in consumption. It charged 1,200 customers £2.25 for every 1,000 litres last summer, compared with the normal rate of £1.90, and consumption fell by 6 per cent. The winter rate was cut to £1.50, meaning the average customer was no worse off.
And that is the crux of this plan- the regulator Ofwat is supposed to make sure the water companies don't take the piss, so water prices at other times of the year would be reduced accordingly. As a result, if you are not a gardening sort, or if you like to wash in the local swimming pool in the summer, you could actually end up being better off under this type of scheme.
Clearly, this type of pricing can only be applied to customers with a meter, which applies to only 37% of home nationally, although there are huge regional variations.