Smart Water Meters

Benefit your business today with a smart water meter.

Just enter your business postcode…

  • Detect leaks immediately.
  • Get accurate water bills.
  • Lower your business’s water footprint.

Smart water meters and your business

Most people are familiar with smart business energy meters for electricity and gas, which the UK government has legislated for a nationwide roll-out as part of their move to a flexible energy grid.

Less well-known is the same technology is also being used to help reduce the environmental impact of the water industry.

This guide explains everything you need to know about smart water meters.

What is a smart water meter?

A smart water meter measures water flow from the mains into a home or business property that uses water and transmits this consumption data as frequently as every 15 minutes.

A smart meter allows you and your water supplier to automatically monitor water consumption, allowing for fast leak detection and helping people to use water more efficiently.

How do smart water meters work?

Smart meters work alongside the mechanical ‘dumb’ water meters already used across the water network.

A water meter uses a spinning mechanism inside the water pipe. A single rotation of the mechanism represents a specific volume of water passing through the pipe.

A smart meter detects the number of rotations and transmits this information every hour using either:

  • A radio module (like a mobile phone) or
  • Wirelessly (using a broadband network).

Your local water company and your business water supplier record the transmitted data. You’ll be able to access your consumption through an online portal which uses analytics to provide helpful information about your consumption.

What are the benefits of using a smart water meter?

Here are the three key benefits of installing a smart water meter at your property:

Leak detection. Commercial water leaks are hugely expensive if they go unnoticed. A smart water meter allows your water company to detect when there is a continuous flow of water into your property over 48 hours – a sure sign of a leak.

Accurate water bills. Without a smart water meter, your supplier will only take a meter reading once every six months. This leads to lots of estimated charges on water bills. A smart water meter helps you avoid any nasty surprises.

Lower water footprint. A smart water meter lets you analyse your water consumption daily. You’ll be able to see the positive effects of simple actions like turning off the taps while washing up. You can read our article on how to save money on your water bills

Business Smart Water Meters

Benefit your business today with a smart water meter.

Just enter your business postcode…

  • Detect leaks immediately.
  • Get accurate water bills.
  • Lower your business’s water footprint.

Why am I being asked to have a smart meter?

The current state of the British water infrastructure is far from smart. The roll-out of smart meters is part of a broader plan to bring the water network into the 21st century.

Each day in the UK, 20 billion litres of water are extracted from rivers, streams and aquifers and treated for human use.

The treated water travels across a vast pipe network to reach homes and businesses nationwide. The water regulator Ofwat estimates that around a fifth of water is lost to leakage before it reaches homes and businesses.

But this is only an estimate – many homes and businesses don’t even have an old-fashioned water meter, meaning no one knows how much water is being used (and wasted through leakage).

Leaking billions of litres of water comes at a considerable cost in exacerbating water scarcity, a growing problem in our warming climate.

Additionally, the cost of wasting water through leakage means higher water bills for everyone.

With smart water meters at all homes and businesses, we would know exactly how and where water is being used and where it is not reaching its destination. The parts of the water network causing the massive water loss could be identified and fixed. Even better, new leaks that do occur could be detected within minutes and quickly fixed.

What does a smart water meter look like?

A smart meter needs detection and transmission equipment where the water pipes come from your road into your property. Typically, water meters are found beneath the pavement outside your home beneath a cover like this:

Find My Water Meter

A smart water meter will be attached to your communication pipe beneath this cover.

Different water companies use different water meters as standard. Here are examples from two of the biggest:

Thames Water smart water meter:

Thames water smart meter

Severn Trent smart water meter:

Severn Trent Smart Water Meter

As a contrast, here’s what an old-fashioned water meter looks like that requires manual meter reading:

Water Meter

And here’s what an AMR device attached to an old water meter looks like. This isn’t a smart meter, but it allows your local water company to get a reading from your meter by driving nearby.

AMR water meter

Which water companies provide smart water meters?

The rollout of smart water meters to homes is currently localised to places where water is most scarce.

Here are the water companies that are currently rolling out smart water meters to homes and the regions they are implementing their roll-out:

Essex and Suffolk Water – All customers in its area

Yorkshire Water
– Small-scale trial

Severn Trent Water
– Coventry and Warwickshire

Anglian Water
– All customers in its area, but starting with those in most water distress

Thames Water
– Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Broxbourne, Camden, City of London, City of Westminster, Croydon, Dartford, Ealing, Elmbridge, Enfield, Epping Forest, Epsom and Ewell, East Hertfordshire, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Sevenoaks, Southwark, Spelthorne, Tandridge, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Guildford, Mole Valley, Swindon, Waverley

South East Water
– Longfield and New Barn in Northern Kent

Portsmouth Water – All customers in the area

Southern Water – Brighton, Southampton, Andover and Midhurst

South West Water – Torrington, Devon

How can my business get a smart water meter?

Unlike the home water market, there is no concerted effort to roll out smart water meters to British companies.

However, AquaSwitch can help. We work with a handful of suppliers specialising in improving their customers’ water efficiency. Want more information on what they offer? Provide your contact details below, and we’ll be in touch.

Smart water meter – FAQs:

Let’s answer your frequently asked questions about smart water meters.

Are smart water meters safe?

Yes. Smart meters communicate their readings using radio waves, just like these other standard devices:

  • Laptops
  • Baby Monitors
  • WiFi Routers
  • Mobiles connected to 4/5G

Since smart water meters only transmit the amount of water that has moved through a pipe, the amount of data they send is tiny, especially when you compare them to activities such as cloud gaming.

And, to be clear, the scientific consensus is that radiowaves are entirely non-harmful for people and that all smart meters comply with UK legislation and EU standards (Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive).

Is it cheaper to be on a smart water meter?

Yes, typically, it is cheaper. Home and business water rates are charged on a volumetric rate – a unit fee per cubic meter of water used.

The typical effect of a smart water meter is to help people become more water efficient and use less water.

Will my old water meter be removed when the smart water meter is installed?

Not usually. Generally speaking, the cheapest way to get a smart meter is to upgrade an existing meter with a clip-on wireless device.

When completely new water meters need to be installed, they’ll usually have integrated wireless communications.

Do smart water meters use electricity?

Smart water meters only transmit a small amount of data representing the water flow through the pipe leading into your property. This means they only need a small amount of electricity.

The usual solution is a long-life battery that lasts at least ten years without replacement.

What’s the difference between an AMR and a smart water meter?

AMR stands for Automatic Meter Reading. An AMR water meter is one where a small transmitter is added to a traditional water meter. An AMR allows your local water company to drive past your meter and take a reading remotely using a handheld receiver.

An AMR water meter isn’t really a smart meter – it won’t allow you to monitor your own water consumption. An AMR water meter simply saves your water company time when taking its scheduled meter readings.

Are smart meters compulsory?

If your local water company wants to install a smart meter at your property, it will likely be mandatory (but free of charge).

There is an excellent reason for this: The smart meter roll-out is targeted to protect areas of high water scarcity.

For example, Thames Water started its rollout of smart water meters back in 2014 specifically to reduce the amount of water being extracted from the River Darent – a protected chalk stream that was running dry.