Water

What are water audits and what do they do?

A water audit has the potential to give you greater knowledge and control over your water accounts through identifying savings and efficiencies.

The first thing EnergySolutions will do when we work with you is to carry out a desktop water audit; this compares your water use (including how much) to how much you are being charged, and bring up any inconsistencies or irregularities with you, as these have the potential to result in you being billed incorrectly. An audit also allows for us to give specific advice and recommendations on how you could reduce your water usage and in turn, lower the charges that come with that.

Our water audit experts take around 7 to 10 days to consider the information given to us and give a response. We are also able to quickly determine whether the information we are working with is widely accurate, and inform you if it is not. The water audit report will also include costed recommendations for improvement to water efficiency and suggest how to reduce future costs. This response will cover all professional fees and provide an estimated return on your investment, with the goal of seeing improvements between 9 and 12 months. Once approved, the next step would be to undertake a full site survey and confirm the detailed changes laid out for you.

Many people see a 30% reduction in their bills for waste and water supplies after going through an audit with EnergySolutions, and we even work to consider your historical bills to see if you deserve a refund on previous water or waste charges, ranging from £500 to £500,000.

EnergySolutions offers in house experts and advice by combining software development expertise with knowledge of the water retail industry and water efficiency services and consultancy.

We will supply you with a desktop water audit for free, helping you understand your bill and whether it is accurate – But, this is not the only service we are offering.

We have an exceptional track record of saving organisations of all sizes a percentage on their water bills and have a strong reputation for the quality of our services.

EnergySolutions does not receive any payments or commission for savings and refunds, instead, we discuss all payments upfront and your savings go straight into your pocket, in full.

Based on a number of clients like yourself, we are sure that you will be interested in a handful of our other money-saving opportunities for all sizes of businesses, for example:

A Water Bill AnalysisThough it can be difficult to bring together 12 months of water bills for your free audit, the intention to foster full visibility of your own expenditure will help you gain control over a significant business overhead. You can find a large variety of different additional charges and hidden obscurities in your tariff that may not always show in one simple water audit. Analysing your bills helps you remove uncertainty around your billing and allows you to be confident that what you are paying for is sure to be correct.
A Water Use SurveyWith the bills we explained above, Energy Solutions can also provide you with a water use survey with no extra faff. We will ask for details on how your water is used at each site a client operates to give us an idea of how the premises operate and how much water would ideally be used. This information, compared to your bills, is where we can build an opinion based on our extensive industry expertise.
Manufacturing, Process and Plant OperationsWe may ask for more in-depth details for manufacturing, process and plant operation businesses due to the high volume of water often used in industrial facilities. We ask manufacturing and industrial clients to give us an idea of how water is used across the whole production process, including washing down and in-product use and disposal, as well as copies of trade waste bills and any waste flow sampling and monitoring data.
Landlord and Third Party Water ChargesLandlord and third party water charges are often forgotten when we ask for billing and usage information, but they are always worth considering and examining. Even though they are not under the same authority as a water company, including them in an audit is a wonderful way to save, by acknowledging them as part of the overall process and looking at their specific costs.

Additional information we may request (dependent on your individual business) includes:

  • New and used car dealerships:
    Staff levels, number of public toilets and details about car valeting bays, etc.
  • Pool and leisure clubs:
    The number of members, swimming pool capacities, spas, plunge pool details, etc.
  • Schools and colleges:
    Number of pupils, staff levels, details of any leisure facilities (e.g, on-site pool) laboratories and catering, etc.

Energy Solutions works to help provide you with all of the information you need, alongside a team of experts in the field of commercial water consultancy, so if you would like to find out more about how we can help you, get in touch.

How to switch water suppliers

Business in Scotland and England no longer need to settle for a water supplier that they do not think suits them. Before April 2017, businesses were expected to suffer in silence and take what they were given to keep themselves running. Now, since we have deregulated the water market, businesses all over England have the opportunity to choose their own supplier and their own services, and as a result, we are opened up to all sorts of new positive experiences with water.

It can still be quite confusing to begin the process, and most people that have not had the opportunity to consider switching business water suppliers in the past may feel overwhelmed.

The first step to take is to calculate your water usage; you can do this by looking at your bills, how much water you use, and how much you pay for it. Keep a note of your SPID, the supply point identification number; your yearly usage, current payment method, and any other bills and charging information.

In order to be eligible to switch, you need to have at least one site operating in either Scotland or England, but there are still so many options for retailers that it can be hard to find what you are looking for.

Although it’s always good to switch your water supply and waste removal, make sure to reach out to your current supplier first. Often, knowing you are looking to switch leads them to make better options for you and generate further discounts.

From here, you can look at the options and compare deals based on your needs. Today, businesses are predominantly driven to switching is the opportunity to save money through another supplier offering lower costs for the same service. You may also find that you experience better service levels and improved customer service if this is something that has been a problem with your current supplier in the past. This is also a good way to encourage more accurate billing and a faster response to your enquiries. Checking out the likes of Trustpilot for the most up to date reviews of the supplier you are currently working with or considering.

By switching, businesses also have the potential to make running their operations a lot more efficiently by consolidating some of your water supply across multiple sites and regions.

In England, the average water bill reduced by 5% to 10% after switching to a deregulated water market, and up to 18% in Scotland. EnergySolutions works to help provide you with all of the information you need, alongside a team of experts in the field of commercial water consultancy, so if you would like to find out more about how we can help you, get in touch

Understanding Your Water Bill – An Overview

Understanding the Different Types of Charges on your Water Bill

Water bills are made up of more than just charges for water use – they also include charges for sewerage. In some cases, there will also be charges included for use and installation of infrastructure. There are many licensed water providers in the UK to choose from, and you are not always stuck with your current supplier! Prices will differ slightly from supplier to supplier so it is worthwhile to do your research.

Water and sewerage charges do change every year, prices rising and falling in-line with inflation and market forces. Prices also vary dependant on the region of supply as well as supplier, as it may be more expensive to provide supply in a rural area as opposed to an area with built-up supply infrastructure. If you have organised your sewerage service and water services to be supplied by two different companies – these will be shown on two separate bills.

Metered Water Charges:

You may be familiar with the use of ‘meters’ in the home to provide a running calculation of usage for things like gas or electricity. They work in an identical fashion for water. Meters are installed so that an accurate measurement of exactly how much water has been used over a certain time period can be recorded and communicated onwards to your supplier. This helps provide much more accurate billing, and saves consumers money.

There will likely be two charges on your bill classified as metered charges:

  • Fixed Standing Charge: This is calculated based off of the size of your water meter and covers readings and maintenance fees for your meter.
  • Variable Volumetric Charge: This charge is directly based on the volume of water you have used.

Unmetered Water Charges:

Most non-domestic properties are metered due to the potential to save money through more accurate billing. There are still some who do not have a meter installed – for any number of reasons. As there is no way to calculate exactly how much water has been used within these properties, water suppliers will not take consumption into consideration when calculating billing.

There will likely be two charges on your bill for both domestic and business customers:

  • Fixed Charge: This will be based upon the rateable value of the property that is supplied.
  • Fixed Standing Charge: This covers the customer-related costs of supply. Examples of this would be billing and customer service charges.

If your property has a high rateable value, or you know that you have low water consumption – it may be prudent to enquire about installing a water meter. This will likely dramatically lower your monthly billing, as unmetered water charges are usually much higher than metered.

Sewerage Charges:

If you have combined sewerage and water services (which is common), then you will likely see the billing combined into one invoice. There are a few more charges that are associated with sewerage, and they are important to be aware of:

  • Surface Water Drainage: Charges related to drainage of rain-water/snow-melt from your property into public sewer.
  • Highway Drainage: Charges for any water or run-off from roads or pavements into public sewer.
  • Trade Effluent: This is aimed at businesses in particular. Charges for any waste water or waste liquids that are discharged.
  • Foul Sewage: Charges for any domestic water waste that are discharged.

There is scope to negotiate on all of these charges. If you are able to prove with relevant paperwork or other proof that you do not use any of these services – then you may be able to access lower charges.

Who Regulates the Water Industry?

Water suppliers are regulated by Ofwat in the UK – The Water Services Regulation Authority. This is a non-ministerial government department, if you think you are being treated in an illegal fashion by your water supplier, or would like to explore legal options – they should be your first port of call. You are able to find their contact information online on their website here:

www.ofwat.gov.uk/contact-us/

This is an organisation set up to protect you, the consumer. Whether you are a small business customer, domestic customer, or own multiple commercial properties around the UK – they are well placed to be able to help you!

Advantages of a Metered Water Supply

AdvantageDescription
Ecologically sustainableBy metering your supply – you gain a better insight to your consumption habits, and are able to lower them accordingly.
More accurate billingYou are billed for the water you use – rather than fixed charges.
FlexibleIf you would like to lower your costs for the month, simply use less water!
CheaperGenerally speaking, metered charges are cheaper than unmetered charges.
TroubleshootingIf you have a leak or problem somewhere in your supply – you will be able to find it much more quickly! Billing will be higher than relative consumption – indicating a problem.

Understanding your Water Bill – Supplier Specific

So far – a general overview has been provided of the water supply industry in the UK. We have covered the basic charges associated with most water and sewerage bills, but will now move on to supplier specific billing explanations.

WaterPlus Customers:

Water Plus Bill, page 1
Water Plus bill, page 2

This is a very comprehensive billing invoice for non-metered supply customers. For metered customers, the invoice is very similar but with different associated charges. We have highlighted the location of the SPID number within this document, as it is incredibly hard to spot!

Clear Business Customers:

Clear Business Bill

Castle Water Customers:

Castle Water Bill

Business Stream Customers:

Business Stream Bill

Wave Utilities Customers:

Wave Water Bill page 1
Wave Water Bill Page 2

Not Happy? A Comprehensive Guide for Complaining to Your Supplier

It’s a shame that you’ve found yourself in a position where you aren’t happy with your energy or water supplier, but it is important you find a way to make it better. Suppliers will have a specific procedure in place on their website to facilitate your complaint, it will generally be one of these:

Telephone

Check to see if there is a service-specific phone line which you should be using

Email

It is a good idea to include COMPLAINT in your email title to help direct it to the relevant people, especially if it is a customer service email as that may be the contact point for all customer enquiries

Online

Some suppliers have forms you can fill out to specifically detail the nature of your complaint; they’ll often respond via email. Sometimes these are only available on a customer’s log in portal so check there if there isn’t one on the generic supplier website

Post

Check to see if there is a service-specific address you should be using; this method will tend to have the longest wait times for a response

Face-to-face

Some suppliers welcome in person conversations but be sure to check beforehand. Often you will be able to ring up the supplier to ask where your nearest contact address would be.

Your supplier should outline a specific complaints window to you including when you should first here back, where you can escalate or raise the complaint again if you disagree with the resolution and how they will remain in contact with you.

It is important to ask for any over-the-phone conversations to be reiterated in writing via email or post so you have a copy of it.

Throughout the process, be sure to keep a note of your complaint number, customer ID and any other information associated with the process (this may include the date and time you get in touch, person you speak to, and the problem you talked about) and keep this easily accessible. This will help the process run more efficiently for both parties and keep you safe from being sent around in circles or promised fake solutions.

NOT SATISFIED WITH THE RESPONSE?

The supplier may have processes in place for escalating your complaint, this usually means contacting the head of customer service or the company director. If you have done this already, or if you were dissatisfied with the initial complaint procedure/outcome then don’t worry; there’s other help available!

Energy Ombudsman

Address:

Ombudsman Services: Energy, P.O. Box 966, Warrington, WA4 9DF

Phone:

0330 440 1624

Email:

enquiry@ombudsman-services.org

Website:

Here

Citizen’s Advice

Address:

Phone:

08082231133

Email:

Website:

Here

WATRS – Water

Address:

Phone:

0800 0086909

Email:

applications@watrs.org  

Website:

Here

CCW – Water

Address:

Phone:

England – 0300 034 2222

Wales – 0300 0343333

Email:

Website:

Here  

Online Complaint

These entities will work with you at any point in the complaint process – whether you’re checking if there are grounds for your complaint in the first place, or whether you’ve not been able to get any support for months.

Anything issued by these companies will be directed to your supplier to then act on.

Ofwat Business Customer Protection Code of Practice

One of the ways that businesses are protected in the opening of the water market is a number of rules and guidelines set on how you should be treated. Known as the “Customer Protection Code of Practice”.

Retailers represented by a third party, such as a consultant or comparison website are also held to comply with these standards, and we have put together a shorter explanation of how how this affects you, in a number of different ways. For example,

Overall Service

All retailers dealing with you must be fair, transparent and honest. This is part of another aspect of the code that means putting clients at the heart of the business, with their best intentions at heart. Suppliers should use plain language and avoid jargon to ensure that the everyday consumer can clearly understand what you are telling them, and can be provided with information to enable them to make informed choices, within an appropriate and timely manner.  Of course, this also means that information given to you should be complete and accurate, with nothing misleading involved, such as hidden costs and contracts, and offer accessible and effective customer services for any questions or concerns that arise from these interactions.

Sales and marketing

If you have less than 10 employees (you are often referred to as a micro-business, and) a retailer must provide you with some basic information before switching your account or agreeing terms and conditions with you. These details include;

  • Relevant prices and charges on tariffs that are offered to you – Including whether or not they have underlying costs and taxes, and any assumptions underlying the proposed prices, charges and tariffs. For example, if you agree on a tariff a month before the details of this change, you should be aware before you are contracted.
  • The ‘terms and conditions of supply’ that come with service levels included in your contract.
  • The type and frequency of bills and payable methods available to you. For example, whether you will be billed monthly or quarterly, and how the company will expect to receive their payments.
  • Lengthy of the contract being offered and its expiry date
  • Contact details of the retailer; this means full name, address and a phone number that does not charge premium rates to call.
  • Any rights that you have to cancel the contract cost free
  • Any rights that you have to cancel the contract that would incur costs or fees, such as an early exit fee. This includes details of the costs or fees and the notice period you must give to avoid them.

Cooling Off Period

You should have a cooling off period of 7 days before your switch goes ahead. This is usually free to cancel, unless specified.

Third Parties acting for retailers

If a third party is acting on your behalf, your company must give written consent to confirm;

  • That the chosen third party may act on your behalf
  • The limits of authority given to that third party
  • How the fees to this chosen third parties will be paid
    If your business holds 10 people or less, the written confirmation must be provided in this template letter.

Contracts

Bill frequency, tariffs and other services you are paying your supplier for all must be transparent as part of the terms and conditions of your contract, and you should be informed as soon as possible about any changes to these.

If your retailer sends your terms and conditions in a letter or email, this needs to be written in plain and simple language to avoid jargon and confusion for a client.

If your contract is due to expire, your retailer must contact you at least 30 days in advance to tell you;

  • That you contract is expiring and when
  • If you are able to renew your contract on the same terms as before, and how
  • Other options available from the supplier for your contract. This includes their current charges and if you are on the cheapest available deal.

Your retailer should be telling you about;

  • The rights you have to dispute the money you owe under your contract
  • How it is possible for you to make a complaint and the time constraints (e.g, deadlines) you have to do so
  • If there are options for reasonable payment plans for outstanding debt
  • What a retailer can do to stop you from switching to a new retailer until your debt to them is paid in full, and what will happen if you fail to pay an outstanding balance or raise a dispute about it.

Extra protection for micro-businesses

If you are a business with fewer than 10 employees, you need to know:

  • The details to any changes made in your contract as soon as they can, within reason. The minimum information considered here can be found in the “sales and marketing” section above.
  • That your retailer will provide you with any information you request too receive in writing, as soon as possible, within reason.
  • Your retailer must give you some minimum information (found in the “sales and marketing” section) once you renew your contract at expiry, as soon as it is reasonably practicable to make the changes.

Switching

Your new supplier should have a valid contract set up with you before they request to switch you. They also must send you at least one accurate bill or invoice annually, which is based on a reading taken from your water meter.

Suppliers may chose to take a meter reading that you submit to them, including when you give them a final meter reading before you switch. If you are a micro business, your retailer should:

  • Send you a final bill on expiry of your contract, or within  6 weeks of your switch
  • For any outstanding debt, you should be offered a reasonable payment plan

Making a complaint

All businesses must have a good complaint handling procedure that has been proven to work in the past. This must be accessible at no cost and should be used for every complaint received. They should also have an effective alternative process (redress scheme) that is readily available to you under the circumstances that you are not fully comfortable with the current options.

Your retailers complaint handling process must:

  • Be in plain and clear language
  • Allow you to make complaints both in person, over the phone and in writing
  • Describe the process your supplier will take on receiving and resolving your complaint, as well as how to investigate each problem and the timescales each step should take to complete.
  • Describe any resolutions available to settle your complaint. These options may be but are not limited to
    • An apology
    • An explanation
    • Remedial action, meaning changes to services or products that may have caused offence.
    • Compensation where remedial action is not possible or is insufficient
    • Describe any rights you have to refer the complaint to a redress scheme

Code Modification and Governance arrangements

Ofwat and any appropriate supplier or person can propose a change to the Customer Protection Code of Practice. You can find the process and governance arrangements for doing this in the full Customer Protection Code of Practice linked above, but proposals may also be submitted via email at CPCOPcodechange@ofwat.gsi.gov.uk by using the proposal form available here. There have been a number of changes made to the code of practice from February 2019 to more recently in December of 2020, as you can see here.