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Business water bills explained

One of our key responsibilities at Business Energy Comparison is to ensure your thorough comprehension of the UK business water market. To fulfill this purpose, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to explain the intricacies of the water bill.

The UK boasts a variety of licensed water suppliers catering to businesses. Despite this diverse range of commercial water suppliers, the pricing structure for water is subject to regulation, guaranteeing a degree of predictability.

Your water bill will consistently present essential information, including your Service Point Identification (SPID) and a breakdown of your Water and Wastewater charges.

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What information is included on your business water bill?

The content of your business water bill may vary slightly depending on whether you have a business water meter installed, as this can lead to fluctuations in your charges. Furthermore, if you have different suppliers for your water and sewerage services, you may receive separate business water bills too.

Typically, your bill will contain the following information:

  • Your business details, including your name and address.
  • Customer reference or invoice number, which you should use when making payments.
  • Supply point ID or waste supply point ID, a unique identifier that indicates the location of your water access point.
  • Account summary, providing an overview of charges, including any bill adjustments and outstanding debts.
  • Charge summary, detailing the costs for the current billing period, encompassing service charges and VAT.
  • Charge breakdown, comprised of a fixed charge for service maintenance and a volumetric charge based on your meter (usage will be estimated using your Rateable Value if unmetered).

What is the SPID?

The Supply Point ID (SPID) is a unique ten-digit code followed by a letter. This identifier plays a crucial role for business water suppliers as it allows them to pinpoint the specific location of your business premises where water is provided.

Typically, a business establishment will be assigned one SPID for freshwater supply and another for the sewerage connection, facilitating the disposal of wastewater.

It’s important to note that the Supply Point ID remains constant for each business premise and doesn’t change even if you decide to switch your water supplier.

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As it becomes increasingly evident, the costs on your bill are consistently divided between the water entering your property and the water exiting it:

Water Charges

These fees pertain to the supply of fresh and drinkable water to your business premises. The cost of water is contingent upon your business’s water consumption.

In cases where your property lacks a meter, the charges are determined based on the rateable value of your property, which serves as an estimate of water usage.

Wastewater Charges

These expenses cover the removal of used water from your business premises into the sewer system. These charges are applicable to all properties with a connection to the sewer system.

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Metered vs Unmetered Water Charges

Metered Water Charges: If you have a water meter, your bill will be based on your “estimated,” “read,” or “actual” water consumption.

There are two types of charges to consider: a fixed charge, which depends on the type of water meter and covers meter readings and maintenance, and a variable charge based on your actual water usage.

For small businesses using less than 50 MI, the water regulator, Ofwat, sets a price cap to protect them. Larger businesses have the option to select non-standard or alternative tariffs to match their supply with demand.

Unmetered Water Charges: Some small businesses may not have water meters installed, making it hard to measure their water usage accurately. Similar to unmetered domestic customers, your bill will consist of a fixed charge based on the property’s rateable value and a fixed standing charge, which covers customer service and billing costs.

Installing a water meter is recommended if you have low water consumption and a high rateable value, as unmetered water bills are generally higher than metered charges. Having a meter can also help detect leaks faster, as bill readings become more accurate, and unexpected increases can indicate a leak, ultimately saving you money.

Sewerage Charges: Your water bill also includes charges for water and wastewater services, which involve the collection and treatment of different types of water, such as surface water drainage for rainwater from your business, highway drainage for water runoff from roads and pavements, wastewater used for industrial purposes, and foul sewage originating from sinks and toilets in the premises.

How is your water bill calculated?

Volumetric Charge

This charge is contingent on the quantity of water consumed by your business. The cost per cubic meter of water hinges on the specific location of your premises and the pricing structure adopted by your business. switch business water supplier here.

Water Charge Formula

Water Charge = Fixed (Standing) Charge + (Volume of Water Used x Volumetric Rate).

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How to calculate your wastewater bill?

Wastewater charges typically encompass both a fixed fee and a volumetric charge:

Fixed or Standing Charge

The fixed wastewater charge is levied by the supplier to account for the maintenance of the pipes connecting your property to the local sewerage system. This fee is determined by the size of the pipes at your business premises.

Volumetric Charge

A business water supplier imposes a charge contingent on the amount of water discharged into the sewerage system. This charge is calculated based on the volume of water supplied to the property.

Return to Sewerage Factor

To estimate the proportion of water supplied to the business premises that is eventually released as wastewater, the supplier employs a “return to sewerage factor.”

In most cases, suppliers default to assuming that all water supplied to a business premise will be returned as wastewater, resulting in a factor of 100%.

Wastewater Charge Formula

Wastewater Charge = Standing Charge + (Volume of Water Used x Volumetric Rate x Return to Sewerage Factor).

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How to understand your water and wastewater services?

We understand that deciphering your water bill can be difficult, but we are committed to ensuring your complete comprehension of the contract you are entering into.

Your contract should encompass vital information, such as customer details (including business name, address, type, and company number), contact details for communication with water companies, property details (with consideration of landlord’s consent for rented properties), supply particulars (including water and wastewater SPIDs, meter number, and location), tariff terms delineating the agreement’s duration and payment details (including bank information for direct debit.

Also, fluctuating VAT rates based on your business size, the customer service number as your primary contact for issues, and comprehensive terms and conditions covering exit clauses, charges, and your responsibilities as a customer, including associated costs.

What services does your contract cover?

Your contract encompasses a range of services, including water supply, emergency provisions, sewage services, billing, and customer service offered by your supplier.

Additionally, it includes ancillary services such as automated meter readings, audits, leak detection and repair, bill validation, tariff optimization, and pathogen testing.

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Business Water Bill

How do you pay for your business water supply?

There are various methods for settling your business water supply bills. The most common and convenient way is through direct debit, where payments are automatically withdrawn from your account each month, often with the benefit of a reduced rate.

Alternatively, you can opt for online payments using a debit or credit card, providing you with more control if you prefer not to automate your payments. Making payments over the phone by contacting your water supplier is another option. If you use online banking, you can initiate a BACS transfer using your customer reference number.

What is Rateable Value (RV)?

Rateable Value, often referred to as RV, is a calculated figure comparing business water suppliers based on factors such as the property’s value, size, location, and amenities. Suppliers use these values to estimate the consumption of businesses that do not have water meters installed.

On April 1, 2017, the Valuation Office Agency adjusted the rateable values of businesses to align with market changes. You can review or compare business water rates and appeal your rateable value at The Valuation Office Agency intends to reevaluate business rates every five years.

If you are charged based on your rateable value, you might be paying more than necessary for your business water. This underscores the benefits of switching business water suppliers and installing a water meter for your business.

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How to save money on your water bills with Business Energy Comparison?

Learning to decipher your water bill is the initial step in recognizing potential areas of excessive spending. By comparing it to your past bills, you might spot patterns emerging.

It’s possible that a water leak has developed, or your supplier might have adjusted their rates, a change that may have escaped your notice.

Thankfully, due to the deregulation of the business water market in the UK, companies now have the freedom to select their water supplier.

At Business Energy Comparison, we offer a convenient method to compare business water costs with the available market deals, in addition to providing you with these informative guides to compare business water, at no cost.