Water meters – your rights

With a water meter you only pay for what you use, allowing you to take full control of your bill.

Your rights

Moving back to your previous method of billing

You may choose to change back to paying on an unmetered basis provided you let us know before you have been billed for two years on the metered charge, unless one of the conditions below applies.

You will not be able to change back to an unmetered bill if:

  • There is a change of occupier or the principal use of the property is no longer a home.
  • You use something other than a handheld device for watering your garden – for example, a sprinkler.
  • You have automatic systems to fill up a swimming pool, pond or lake with a capacity of over 10,000 litres.

Customer advisory notice over mains water supplied hot water heaters/combination boilers

When water is heated, it expands (referred to as expanded water), and this is usually accommodated by the installation of an expansion vessel and associated fittings. However, certain types of hot water heaters and combination boilers rely on the mains water supply pipe to accommodate the expanded water, rather than an expansion vessel.

The installation of a new boundary stop tap box or internal stop tap may stop this from happening as they incorporate check valves (non-return valves). We will not accept liability for any problem with your heating system or plumbing which may arise following the installation of a new boundary stop tap box or internal stop tap (unless it is because of faulty workmanship on our part).

If you have any doubt about the effect that a new boundary stop tap box or internal stop tap may have on your heating system or plumbing then we advise you to consult a competent heating or plumbing engineer.

Customer advisory notice about electrical earthing

In 1966 the law changed preventing incoming water pipes from being used to earth properties. Fitting a water meter to your supply may mean that this method of earthing will no longer work. You should contact a qualified electrician for advice if you are in any doubt how your property is earthed. Any work required to be done will have to be paid for by you and you may want to consider this when deciding on whether to have a meter fitted.

Terms and conditions

Water is supplied in accordance with our statutory obligations and these are the main terms of supply for metered customers

We own the meter and we will be responsible for maintaining and replacing it when necessary. Only our employees or agents are authorised to remove or replace the meter. If you damage the meter or any device related to it you will have to pay the repair or replacement costs including the costs of visiting and administration. Tampering with our water meter is a criminal offence. We will be responsible for maintaining the meter box only where it is acting as our company stop tap box.

You will be responsible for all water recorded by the meter. If at any time it is found that the meter has not registered the amount of water consumed, we will agree an estimate of your consumption for the period since the last reading and charge accordingly.

The position of the meter does not affect your responsibility for your private supply pipe. Our responsibility for pipework normally ends at the property/ highway boundary. If your meter box is fitted inside the boundary of your property and is not acting as our company stop tap box, you will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of the meter box.

You are legally required to allow any authorised Bristol Water employee or agent access to read, test or exchange the meter. You must ensure that the meter remains fully accessible if it is fitted on your property.

If the meter is fitted inside your property and you do not reply to our request for access to the meter, we reserve the right to estimate your account based on previous consumption.

Domestic customers

In most cases, fitting a meter will be free unless:
  • It is necessary to separate your supply pipes where they are shared with other customers.
  • It is necessary to install additional meters because you are served by more than one supply (a second meter may be fitted free of charge provided this does not incur disproportionate costs).
  • Substantial alterations to existing plumbing or building are required to ensure the meter can be fitted. In these cases you will need to make the alterations yourself to enable a meter to be fitted for free. We will provide a specification for the meter fitting position. You can also ask us to fit a meter in an alternative location. Individual quotations will be provided which will include an allowance equal to the price of providing the free meter option in our preferred position.

Where you fail to complete all the necessary works within three months of the application, the application will be cancelled and a fresh application will need to be made when the works are ready. In the very few cases where it will not be possible to fit meters at all or the necessary alterations could be unduly expensive, you will then have a choice of:
  • Remaining on rateable value charges.
  • Moving to an assessed charge 

These charges apply to your water supply only and your sewerage service provider will also apply charges. Assessed charges cannot be backdated. In cases of multi occupancy buildings (for example, a block of flats where the flats cannot be individually metered), we will be prepared to consider a single meter which will be the responsibility of one individual or management company acceptable to Bristol Water.

Responsibility for dividing up the bill rests with the occupiers. In the event of non-payment the agreement will be void and all flats will revert to rateable value charging, retrospectively for the period equivalent to the outstanding debt. In cases where multiple dwellings such as blocks of flats or caravan sites are already supplied through a single meter, the right for individual units to opt for a meter is not available.

If an individually metered account is required, the owner or tenant should contact the person responsible for paying the metered account. Ofwat produces a leaflet called “A Guide to Water Resale”, which can help explain the process. The meter is owned by Bristol Water. You can request your meter be moved at any time at your cost. Tampering or removal of the meter, without the authorisation by Bristol Water is an offence and will result in a fine of up to £1,000 under Section 175 of the 1991 Water Industry Act.

Non-household customers

Non-household customers should contact their retailer for details of metering and charges.


If you have a query about water meters, please get in touch with us by calling 0345 600 3600* or sending us an email.

*Calls to 0345 numbers usually cost the same as standard UK landline numbers. Please check with your network provider. Our lines are open Monday - Friday, 8am - 6pm - Please have your customer reference number and the property address the query relates to handy for our representatives.

How does the refund scheme work?

Under our Cheaper with a Meter refund scheme, customers who choose to switch to a metered tariff after 18 February 2022 are entitled to a refund if their metered bills are higher than their unmetered bills. The difference will be credited if you decide to switch back to unmetered billing two years after installation.

You can change back to unmetered billing before the two years cooling-off period unless one of the conditions below applies:

  • There is a change of occupier or the principal use of the property is no longer residential
  • You use something other than a handheld device for watering your garden – for example, a sprinkler
  • You have automatic systems to fill up a swimming pool, pond or lake with a capacity of over 10,000 litres
  • Customers who have previously reverted at their current property are unable to revert again.

Please note:

  • Any meters fitted through a change of occupier are not eligible for this scheme
  • If a customer chooses to revert within the two years, they will not be eligible for the scheme
  • If a leak occurs during the two years, we will send a letter notifying the customer that the scheme has been extended until their next meter reading
  • Money saving statistics based on a random sample of 2,250 Bristol Water customers who opted for a meter
  • If the customer opts to revert, any overpayment made on the water meter will be credited against the new unmetered bill. If this bill is covered in full and there is credit remaining, this will be refunded to the customer.

Switch to a water meter

It’s free to switch to a water meter and if you don’t save money within the first two years, you can switch back for free.

Request a water meter