Stephen Plumb, Thames Water’s head of metering
Stephen Plumb, Thames Water’s head of metering

Thames Water has started the U.K.’s first smart water program to install smart water meters at all the properties across its service area – which includes London and the Thames Valley – enabling residents to monitor their usage online.

Currently around 30% of the company’s customers are on meters. By 2030, 100% of connections should be metered.

Thames Water says in a statement it will fully support customers to help them save water, energy and money. This includes giving customers two years before they are moved on to a metered bill, unless they want to switch early, and providing practical support, including fitting free water-saving devices that can help reduce a home’s water use by up to a quarter.

The new meters will collect water usage data every 15 minutes, giving customers in-depth information on how much water they use, as well as more accurate bills. They will also give Thames Water a more detailed understanding of where water is being used, and in what quantities, enhancing its ability to pinpoint and tackle leakage.

Leaks on customers’ pipes account for a quarter of leakage in the company’s supply area. So the meter installation will include an initial check for leaks. Meter readings will also be monitored automatically to detect any periods of continual usage (which often indicates a leak).

“We all have a vital role to play in reducing demand for water, but first everyone needs to understand what they are using,” said Steve Plumb, Thames Water’s head of metering. “That’s why we’re fitting smart meters across our region as by knowing more we can all waste less.”

Thames Water’s supply area is in a region that has been classified as “seriously water stressed.” The company has forecast that if nothing is done to reduce water demand, by 2020 there will be a shortfall of 133 Ml per day in the amount of water available, trebling to 414 Ml per day by 2040.

Thames Water has found that customers with ordinary water meters use an average 12% less water.