‘Smart meters in all of our customers’ homes’

Thames Water has announced ambitious new plans to install ‘smart’ water meters in every one of its customers’ homes by 2030. Currently just under a third of the company’s customers are using the technology, which gives more accurate readings for billing and helps people to use less water – often saving them money and reducing strain on the environment.

The appropriately-named Steve Plumb, Thames Water’s head of metering, said: “Britain is the only country in the developed world without universal water metering or a plan to achieve it. With London being classified as ‘seriously water-stressed’ by the Environment Agency, and with customers using a third more water than they did 30 years ago, it is really important we act now.”

The scheme is set to begin in Bexley in southeast London, which will become the first area in the UK to see smart water meters connected to a wireless network. This enables residents to monitor their water usage online, as well as giving Thames Water more information about how and where water is being used across its 20,000-mile network. According to a press release, the monitoring system will help with leak detection by flagging up long periods of continuous usage, which can indicate a leaky pipe.

Customers will be given two years of advance notice before they are switched onto a metered bill, although they will be encouraged to switch early to make the most of savings. The company will also offer to fit water-saving devices in homes free of charge. Work on the metering programme is due to begin in early 2014, with nearly three-quarters of customers in Bexley expected to have smart meters installed by mid-2015.

Environment Agency director for the south-east Howard Davidson said: “Being aware of how much water we use is a key step in making sure that we don’t take any more than is necessary from the environment. We fully support the use of metering as it has been shown to reduce the demand for water.”

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