By Josh Gill, CEO and Founder of Everflow
The rising cost-of-living isn’t just a crisis facing consumers. Businesses across the country are also feeling the pinch whether it’s from the increasing utility bills, soaring fuel costs, wage growth, inflationary pressures or a mix of all of the above. As a result, UK firms of all sizes are rightly re-assessing their finances on the hunt for cost-saving measures.
When it comes to savings, utility bills are often one of the first expenses scrutinised. Especially, given the recent, much publicised hike in electricity and gas bills. By contrast, far less attention has been paid to the costs of water supply. Perhaps understandably since water accounts for a far smaller proportion of the overall cost of utilities.
But savings on water are more than just a drop in the ocean for businesses facing the cost-of-living crisis. And they’ve taken on even greater importance in the current climate, at a time when the purse strings have rarely been tighter and given that wholesale water and retail water default rates have risen in recent months.
So how can businesses save on water bills?
Until recently, businesses weren’t afforded the luxury of choosing their water supplier to save costs due to regulation mandating the exclusive use of local water suppliers. This all changed in 2017, when deregulation opened England’s business water market for competition, creating the world’s largest competitive water and wastewater retail market.
Since then, businesses have been incentivised to switch providers or renegotiate their existing deal, as the new market competition has driven providers to offer increasingly attractive rates. This has raised the prospect of marginal gains on water rates for savvy business leaders and CFOs to capitalise upon. For example, based on an average spend of £2,000 per annum on water and wastewater, SMEs can save an average of over £500 per year by switching to Everflow.
Although there appears to be a positive, upward trend in awareness among businesses of the benefits of switching providers and how to do so, there is still progress to be made. The water market falls well below other utility markets in terms of customers switching, with Ofwat’s State of the Market report finding that only 9% of all customers in the water market had been active in the prior 12-months. And almost half of businesses remain unaware that they can shop around and choose their water supplier.
For businesses interested to know more but unsure how to switch or even where to start, brokers play a crucial role in providing UK businesses with the insights and advice needed to understand this new marketplace and find the best deals for their business. Additionally, businesses can also view our instant quoting tool which provides a quote in minutes.
Managing your bills is an important step to becoming aware of your outgoings on water and how much you can be saving. In particular, staying on top of your invoices will keep you up to date on the period you’re being charged for and help you plan effectively for any adjustments in prices which occur every April, when wholesalers increase your charges.
As well as reading your invoices, another way to manage your bills will be to read your water meter regularly. We recommend checking around every six months. This will ensure you avoid adjustments if your usage changes over time and keeps your bills as accurate as possible. Additionally, it can help you to spot any leaks or problems. Only when businesses are fully aware of their usage, as they are with their electric and gas usage, will they be able to identify problems and address the issue.
Possibly the most obvious way to save money on water bills is to use less water. Measures to create efficiencies in your water usage can support while having the added benefit of contributing positively towards your sustainability goals. However the solutions aren’t always as straightforward as you might think.
- Tap aerators are small devices that are easy to install. They mix the water with air as it leaves the tap, meaning less water is used while pressure remains high.
- As much as ten litres of water is wasted every day, waiting for the tap to run cold for drinking water. Water coolers are a quick and easy way to deliver instant cold water for staff and reduce unnecessary wastage.
- Washing up bowls at each washing up point can help to significantly reduce the amount of water needed.
- Installing dual-flush mechanisms on toilets gives you a choice of how much water to use, saving between 7-9 litres of water per flush compared to traditional systems.
- If your business has showers for employees, consider using low-flow shower heads to reduce usage, and shower timers to increase awareness and limit water wasted.
- Investing in eco models of appliances and setting other existing appliances to eco settings can help to reduce wastage too.
- Dripping taps can waste more than 5,500 litres of water a year. Although fixing them can be costly depending on how bad the problem is, the water savings can repay the short-term outlay in the long-run.
There are a range of solutions to managing and reducing your water bills. Businesses that are able to do so successfully can make significant, long-term savings, gain an edge over their competitors and boost their sustainability credentials. Amid such a challenging economic landscape, there has never been a better time for businesses to act on their water bills.