Explaining Your Water Bill
Receiving bills is something we’re all familiar with, but understanding these bills is a skill that not everybody is confident in. Water bills can contain many sections that may be confusing, and it’s important that you understand every aspect of your water bill and the information it’s trying to convey.
Each water company is different and will send out bills with slightly different layouts and sections. The contents of the water bill might also be different depending on whether you are metered or unmetered. However, there are common elements that pop up on most bills. In this useful guide, we’ll be explaining your water bill in detail to ensure you understand every part of it.
What do the sections of my water bill mean?
- Personal details: At the top of the letter will be the bill payer’s address; this is often the address where the water services are provided to as well. The date of the bill will also be included for your records.
- Account number: Make a note of your account number, as you will require it whenever you access your account online or over the phone, or to change anything in regards to your account or payment. It is usually printed towards the top of bill letters.
- Amount due/account summary: The actual figure that you owe for the month may be repeated several times throughout the water bill. On the first page, you will be told a simple ‘amount due’ figure, which gives you a concise idea of exactly how much you owe. This amount will be further explained later on in the letter in a section called ‘account summary’ or similar. Information included here is the period covered by the charge, the figure you were charged last month, along with the balance due on the current bill and extra information regarding your metered or unmetered status.
If you are unmetered, you will most likely pay the entire year’s amount in one or two annual installments, which the bill will remind you of. If you are metered, the summary may include your meter readings for both this month and last month, and how the amount owed was calculated from these readings.
- Advice: Hints and tips are often included for your benefit, answering common FAQs, and also providing handy information about setting up a direct debit or switching to a water meter.
- How your bill is calculated: Most water bills are very transparent at showing their customers exactly how the figures they’re charging for were calculated. If you are unmetered, you may be told how your tariff was calculated based on the rateable value of your property and the area you live in (these rateable values have been fixed since the 1990s, so negotiation is impossible). If your home has a meter, this section might instead explain how the meter readings work and how they calculate figures using these readings.
- Contact details: Often key contact information will be included in the letter, such as the water company website, email address, phone numbers for various departments, and useful emergency numbers.
- Account activity: Historic transactions may also be printed, informing you of past account activity to refresh your memory.
- Payment schedule: This section may also be called ‘future payments’ and it details upcoming payments for the rest of the year, and includes information as the amount and the due date. If you pay by direct debit, you don’t need to take any action as your payments will be made automatically.
- Giro credit slips: Some water companies will attach a giro credit slip to the bottom of your bills. If you’re not paying via direct debit, this slip can be used along with a cheque or cash, and essentially instructs the bank to pay the provided amount into your water company’s account.
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