Thames Water is celebrating a key milestone in its drive to protect future water resources having installed half a million smart meters in its region.
The company’s roll-out, which currently covers London and the village of Haslemere, near Guildford, is the biggest smart water meter programme in the UK. As well as giving customers greater control over their water use and bills, the data is also proving a vital tool in Thames Water’s battle to reduce leakage and meet the unprecedented demand for water influenced by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mark Cooper, head of metering at Thames Water, said: “The use of smart meters has been a real game changer as they give us such a detailed insight into exactly where the water we put into supply goes, when our customers use water and how much they use. The data has been particularly invaluable over the last 12 months as the traditional demand patterns we’ve been used to have changed significantly due to lockdown.
“The typical peak demand periods of early morning and evening are no longer so prominent as fewer people are leaving their homes for work so might shower, use the washing machine or water the plants in the middle part of the day instead.”
By 2025 Thames Water plans to begin the roll out of smart meters across the Thames Valley and expects to have meters fitted for all suitable homes by 2035.
To date, smart meters have helped detect more than 28,000 leaks on customers’ private supply pipes, which have been repaired by Thames Water or the property owners and saved a massive 43 million litres of water a day. Customer side leaks account for around a quarter of Thames Water’s total leakage and the meter data was cited as playing a large part in the company meeting its leakage reduction target in 2019/20.
Data from smart meters is also being used to support Thames’ award-winning smarter home visit programme, by highlighting higher using households who are then prioritised for a visit.
During the visits they received free water saving advice and can have gadgets installed in their homes to help them reduce their water use, such as water saving tap and shower heads. Smart metered customers use on average 17 per cent less water than those without a meter and typically high-using households can reduce their usage by around 100 litres per day following a smarter home visit.
The smarter home advisors can also arrange for leaking loos to be fixed for free and can signpost householders to Thames Water’s priority services and financial support packages if they are classed as vulnerable or struggle with their bills.
Dr Nathan Richardson, head of policy and strategy at Waterwise, said: "Thames Water's smart water meter programme is sector leading and Waterwise are huge fans. It is helping the company and its customers save water; reduce carbon emissions and ultimately it means that more water is left in the environment. We would like to see government, regulators and the rest of the sector getting on board, with smart meters rolled out to all homes.”