Cost Advisor

All About Water Meters

April 30, 2019

Metering is not universal in New Zealand since the Water Industry Act 1999 gives people the right to choose whether to pay for water on an unmeasured or on a metered basis with volumetric charging. Water is free, but network utility providers usually charge for wastewater services. This fee includes a targeted rate plus volumetric charging.

Why install a water meter?

In general, water meters are a useful tool that can raise consumer awareness, curb demand and save resources.

For property owners, a water meter helps to monitor water consumption and record trends. If you suspect a leak somewhere on your property, one of the easiest ways to check is by reading your water meter.

Domestic and non-domestic meters

In Auckland, water consumption charges are based on whether your meter is classified as domestic or non-domestic. If you have both types, you will have separate accounts for residential and business billings.

Domestic meters are for properties in which the only activity therein are living and sleeping. All other types of property will have meters classified as non-domestic. This includes apartments because apartment blocks typically have commercial units such as shops, convenience stores and cafes. Since the meter is shared between domestic and commercial units, the charges are considered non-domestic to account for the additional business use of wastewater services.

Indicators that the property provides commercial accommodation include:

  • signage for advertisement
  • designated parking
  • requiring potable water to comply with government and council regulations (e.g. for food safety)
  • being GST registered

If you want to avoid a mixed-use situation and change your water meter classification, you have the option to separate a shared meter. You may also apply for a meter reclassification if you believe your current one is incorrect.

Shared Meters

Properties that typically have a shared meter are flats/units, body corporate housing, a mixed commercial-residential property, and a main residence with a standalone unit (e.g. a granny flat).

Everyone who shares the meter pays an equal portion of the bill, regardless of the number of occupants or usage volume. If you live alone while all other units are occupied by families or by a business, you may be paying too much for what you actually use.

In such situation, you may want to have your own separate meter from the shared meter. To do so, you’ll need to apply for a change in connection way ahead of the required work. Your utility service provider will install the new meter and connect it to the mains water supply on the street. Then, you will need to hire a plumber to connect a private pipe from the new meter to your home.

Alternatively, you may want to have a check meter installed. It is a cheaper way to record your own water use than to separate from a shared meter. Note, however, that this does not change the way you are billed – the check meter only serves to verify your actual usage against what you are billed.

Sub meters

Some properties have a meter configuration wherein one master meter is connected to several subsidiary or sub meters. The master meter records all water supplied to the units or dwellings connected to it, while the sub meters record water use for individual dwellings. The arrangement may be customised. For instance, homeowners may want a separate sub meter for a communal tap or swimming pool, so they can equally divide consumption for these shared facilities.

In this type of metering, householders share responsibilities. The property owners are jointly responsible for maintaining the pipes between the master meter and the private network, and each one must maintain the pipes from the sub meter to their dwelling.

Other types of water meters

There are special kinds of meters used for purposes other than the abovementioned:

  • Irrigation meter. If you are watering large areas like golf courses, orchards or big gardens, an irrigation meter is preferable. It’s more economical since water measured by this type of meter does not drain into the wastewater network, hence you are not paying wastewater charges.
  • Rain tank water meter. This is usually installed in properties that rely on rain tank or bore water. If you have no meter, you will pay a fixed fee for collecting and treating your wastewater. This stays the same no matter how much wastewater you discharge. On the other hand, if you install a rain tank water meter, you may pay a lower fixed charge plus a variable volumetric component.
  • Deduction meter. Similar to the master/sub meter configuration, this setup has a master deduction meter and one or more sub deduction meter. From the watermain, water passes first through the master deduction meter and then to a private line shared by sub deduction meters.

How to read your water meter

Knowing how to read your meter can be useful if you want to check the accuracy of your water bill or if you suspect a leak somewhere on your property.

When you open the cover on your meter, you will see numbers in black and white as well as in red and white. The numbers reflected on your bill are those in black and white, which indicate the amount of water used in kilolitres (1000 liters).

How to find your meter

The water meter is normally located at the front of a property, hidden under the ground inside a metal, concrete or plastic box.

Each water meter has its own serial number, which you can see on your water bill. If you have a shared network, the number will be the same for all the dwellings in your building.

How to check for leaks

Noticed an increase in your bill though your usage has not changed? It could indicate a leak. To check, make sure all taps and showers in your property are turned off. Find your water meter and observe the small dial on it. If it is spinning, you have a leak and need to call a plumber to find out where it is.

Whether you want a separate water meter to divide a property or you want sub meters to track individual usage within your property, Euro Plumbing is ready to help you. We have handled all sorts of plumbing jobs and we are also Auckland gasfitters offering gasfitting services, so you can trust us to get the job done. Tell us how we can help through 0800 TEAM EURO.

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