The non-domestic water market in England was deregulated in April 2017, which opens the market up for competition. Since then, businesses have been able to choose their water supplier, unlike domestic households, who are supplied and billed by the water board for their area. The sector is monitored and regulated by Ofwat, to protect business customers by ensuring that they do not pay higher prices for, for example, not switching or negotiating a new contract.
The business water market works just like any other utilities market. There are retail suppliers who buy wholesale services, and customers can choose which retail supplier they want to use, perhaps by carrying out a business water comparison. Wholesalers own and maintain the network of pipes, mains, and treatment works, so retail suppliers will buy services such as water supply and waste removal from these wholesalers and compete to sell these services onto business customers.
Open Water is the government’s programme and is led by Ofwat, Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and MOSL. Information about the market is shared with business customers via this programme.
Just as with your gas or electricity at home, switching water suppliers can bring a host of benefits for your business. Unlike domestic water, which is provided by the local water board and offers no choice, business water comparison and subsequent switching of suppliers can enable you to get the service you want while potentially saving you money. You can use Open Water’s online list of suppliers to make your business water comparison and find the right one for you.
It is important to know what type of service you want before you begin to compare business water suppliers. Since the retail suppliers are competing for your business, if you take the time to compare business water suppliers, you are sure to be able to find one that works best for you. For example, you can compare business water suppliers’ ratings for customer services, if that is important to you. Furthermore, if you have sites across the country that are served by different water boards, the deregulation now allows you to choose just one supplier for all sites, which may work out to be more cost effective.
Your water bill will be made up of a few different elements, not all of which will be applicable to all businesses. The main elements are water supply and sewerage charges, the price of which can change annually and will vary between regions. These elements may also be provided by different companies, which means you will be billed separately for each.
If you have a water meter, then you will have a fixed standing charge, which is based on the size of your meter and covers reading the meter as well as maintenance, plus an amount for how much water you use. If you don’t have a water meter, then the water supplier has no idea how much water you have used, so instead you will be charged a fixed amount based on the rateable value of your premises on top of the standing charge.
Sewerage services include surface water drainage, highway drainage, trade effluent, and foul sewage, but not all of these will be applicable to your business. Surface water drainage charges are for rainwater which goes into public sewers from your property. Highway drainage charges are for water which runs from roads into public sewers. Trade effluent charges are for liquids used and discharged by your business, such as food waste or detergents. Finally, foul sewerage is wastewater from toilets and sinks.
Although most of the planet is covered with water, less than 3% of this is fresh water and much of it is inaccessible. Since businesses account for around a quarter of water usage in the UK, making your business more water efficient will certainly help to preserve this precious resource.
Apart from the worldwide benefits of saving water, you could see some benefits closer to home. Water and energy are intricately linked, since pumping water through your tap requires energy. For this reason, saving water could also save you money on your energy bill. It is not just about turning the tap on less frequently; there are many water saving devices you could consider installing. A lot of water is wasted with a manual tap when it is switched on and off, and, since an automatic tap will switch itself off after a certain period, there is less danger of wasting water through forgetting to switch it off, or it not being switched off all the way. Spray taps are another option to save water. These force water through small holes to create the spray, therefore using much less water than a conventional tap.
You can also look at ways to save water with your toilets. You could put a brick in the cistern, so that it doesn’t fill up with quite so much water. This can save thousands of litres each year. Installing a dual flush system gives the option of a small flush that uses less water to be used when sufficient, and this is another way you can save water. There are also toilet units you can install, which have the hand washing sink over the top of the cistern, so the water used from washing hands refills the cistern rather than going to waste.
Furthermore, you could consider banning bottled water from your business and making sure only tap water is used. You could install water butts around your premises to catch rainwater (there is plenty of it in the UK!), which can be used for almost anything besides drinking water straight out of the storage tank.
The options when it comes to business water have increased since its deregulation in 2017. Businesses now have the opportunity to save money by switching suppliers, but there are also many other techniques allowing you to save water, energy, and money.
It takes roughly 28 days to switch business water suppliers. This does depend on how many sites your business has.
The easiest way to find your business water supplier is to find your recent bill. Once you find a copy, we’ll be able to tell you whether you could benefit from switching business water supplier.
If your business is based in England or Scotland, you will be eligible to switch your business water supplier. Businesses in Wales can switch, but only if they use over 50 mega litres of water a year.
Yes in one word. They are many business water suppliers out there now after the deregulation. When comparing business water suppliers they are many deals and saving to be had. Use bright compare's comparison service to compare your business water.
To change you business water supplier normally takes about 28 days. Make sure you have paid your final bill to your previous business water supplier for a smooth transition.