Frequently asked questions

Last reviewed:

Requesting a meter

Yes, you can call us on 0800 980 8800 and we'll send you a form to complete. Alternatively you can fill in our handy form

Our lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm Saturday and closed on Sunday and bank holidays.

Our textphone service for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing is on 0800 316 6899. Please note, voice calls or mobile numbers aren’t accepted via this number.

We'll be in touch

We'll contact you within 14 days of receiving your application to arrange a survey at your home. This is to check the most suitable place to fit your meter.

Your survey

Our aim is to fit your meter outside your home, so we can easily read and maintain it without having to disturb you. The survey is to check that this is possible. If it is, we'll come back and fit it once we have permission from the local highways to work in the pavement or road.

If we can’t fit a meter outside, we'll look to see if it can be fitted elsewhere and this may be inside your home. In this case, we'll either fit a meter during the survey or make an appointment to come back and fit it at a convenient time for you.

Fitting your meter

Outside your home:

If we can fit your meter outside, you don't need to be at home when we carry out this work. We'll need to turn your water off for around 20 minutes.

Inside your home:

This will be an arranged appointment with you. We'll need to turn your water off for around 20 minutes to fit your meter, so please make sure you don’t have any appliances on that use water during this time.

Once your meter is fitted, we'll leave you a leaflet giving you all the information you need about your new meter, including ways to help you save water, energy and money.

Your account will be updated automatically and we'll write to you with your new account number when this has been done.

Properties with complicated plumbing - particularly in flats - may mean it's not always possible to fit a meter. If this is the case for your home, we’ll review your charges to see if there's a better tariff that reflects the amount of water you use. If it turns out that you already pay the lowest tariff for your charges, your account with us will remain unchanged.

You can only opt out of being metered if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You applied for a meter via the optional metering route
  • The meter was installed within the last 12 months
  • The property is not within one of our compulsory Smart Metering areas

Installing your meter

Fitting normally takes around 45 minutes and we'll need to turn your water off for about 30 minutes.
All surfaces will be left in a safe and level condition. If we fit your meter outside, we'll try to carry out a permanent repair straight away. In some cases this isn't possible and we'll have to do a temporary repair. Where this is the case, we'll return within six months to complete the permanent repair, once the ground has had time to settle.
If we need to fit your meter under your drive, we will keep any disruption and inconvenience to a minimum. We suggest you advise your neighbours that you are having a meter fitted and that we may need to gain access to your shared driveway for a short amount of time.

Properties with complicated plumbing - particularly in flats - mean it’s not always possible to install water meters.

In these cases, we ensure you get a water bill that better reflects the amount of water you use. A flat rate tariff is available called the ‘Assessed Household Charge’.

These charges are based on the average consumption of our metered customers and reflect the number of bedrooms in a property. There's also a Single Occupier Tariff if you live alone.

These tariffs are only available if you've applied for a meter but we've been unable to fit one - either because it's not possible or it would be too expensive to fit.

Take a look at how much you'll pay on the Assessed Household Charge

We'd like all our customers to have a water meter as it's the fairest way to pay and encourages people not to waste water. We do a thorough survey - both inside and outside of your property - before deciding on whether a meter can be installed. So it's unlikely anything more could be done. Although there's no formal appeal process, we can discuss this with you.
Where possible, we will always try to fit a meter. However, in some cases this can prove very difficult and costly - for example, at homes with separate pipework where we may need to fit more than one meter.
Your water supply pipe (the one running from our water main towards your home) serves one or more neighbouring properties as well as your own. An external meter would record everyone’s collective usage. In these cases we'll have to fit a meter inside your home, if possible.

Reading your meter

If your meter is outside, you will need to lift open the cover. There should be a small lip on the edge, but you may need a screwdriver to help lift it. Under the cover there should be a foam or polystyrene disc. This protects your meter from frost so please make sure you replace it.

You only need to record the black numbers, which show the amount of water you've used in cubic metres (m³). Depending on the type of meter, it may have four or five of these. Please ignore the red numbers (these record tenths and hundredths of a cubic metre).

It's necessary to take our own meter readings at each property at least once every two years. You can submit your own meter reading online at any time.
No. It's normal for some groundwater to seep into the box that holds the meter. This won’t affect the meter in any way.
No, we'll take care of everything. Our technician who fits your meter will provide us with the relevant details, so we can set up your new metered account. We'll do this within two weeks of your meter being fitted.

Billing and your account

Your bill will quote the serial number of the meter you are being billed for. If you check this number against the serial number on your meter, they will be the same.
You'll receive your first bill within the first six months of your meter being fitted. We'll then send bills twice a year.
Estimates are based on the average amount of water you use. If you don't have any previous readings we'll make an estimate within the range of five to ten cubic metres per month. When we next read your meter, your bill will be adjusted accordingly. If you've received an estimated bill but would prefer an accurate reading, you can submit your meter reading online.
We'll set up a payment plan on your new account which will be based on your revised charges. Your existing payment method eg Direct Debit, will be transferred across to your new account. The only difference might be the number of instalments you have as metered payment plans run for a 12 month period. If this affects you, we will always try to call you first.
You should continue to make your normal payments. Once your meter is fitted we'll automatically update your account to include any payments you have already made.
Any credit balance will be transferred to your metered account once it is set up. In this case, we'll try to contact you when we set up your account. You can choose whether you’d like to use any credit against your metered charges/payment plan or whether you’d like the money refunded.
If you've applied for a water meter and for whatever reason we cannot fit one, your new charges will only take effect from the date you applied for a water meter. These tariffs are only available for customers who have applied for a water meter but cannot have one fitted.
    There could be several reasons to explain why your bill is higher than expected:
  • If your previous bill was based on an estimated reading, but the estimate was too low - so your current bill may include additional costs from previous bills.
  • Your current bill may cover a longer period of time than your previous bill.
  • Your water usage may have gone up as a result of more people moving into your property, or if you've had visitors to stay.
  • You may have a problem with your domestic plumbing or with an appliance. This could be anything from a dripping tap to a washing machine flood. A dripping tap alone can waste as much as 140 litres of water a week.
  • Activities such as building, renovation or decorating could mean you've used more water than normal.
  • If you've used a hosepipe or sprinkler, your water usage will have shot up. Using a hosepipe for just one hour uses as much water as the average person uses in three days (one day's usage can be as much as 155 litres).

If you still think your bill is too high and doesn’t reflect the amount of water you've used, you may have a leaking pipe at your property. We can help you check if you have a leak.

If you decide to change the structure of your property, you need to let us know before the work starts. This could be:

- converting it into flats

- selling part of it, so one property becomes two

- using part of the premises for commercial purposes.

We can then ensure you are being charged correctly and install a water meter or additional meters, if required.

If this is the case, please contact our Developer Services team:

Call us

Please call us on 0800 009 3921. Our lines are open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and are closed at weekends and bank holidays.

Email us

Please send your emails to

Write to us

Thames Water

Developer Services

Rose Kiln Court

Rose Kiln Lane



We supply 2.6 billion litres of drinking water to nine million people across London and the Thames Valley every day. Just over a third of this water is pumped from natural reservoirs below ground and 65 per cent is pumped from rivers.

The more water we use, the less water is left in the environment. During long periods of low rainfall when water is in short supply, the low flows left in rivers reduce the available habitat for fish and other wildlife. This can also lead to water restrictions to help ensure there is enough water to go around.


Also in this section

The benefits of having a water meter Request a water meter How can I read my meter? Submit your meter reading Metered Bill Joint Southern Water customers