Smart Meters and Domestic Water Usage

May 2015

As global demand for water increases and shows no sign of abatement, the metering of domestic water usage, and the application of ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ meter technologies, is increasingly viewed as being central to reducing the demand for water and facilitating more effective management. Smart meters are argued to encourage more equitable allocation, through application of the user-pays principle. This results in the water user paying for what they actually consume, while seeking to associate usage and cost in order to provide a fairer and more sustainable management solution

This review aims to create a more coherent and integrated understanding of how water metering, through smart meters in particular, can affect domestic demand for water. It also considers the influence of additional factors that serve to shape the effectiveness of metering technologies. It is important to note that the contextual and governance focus of this review, whilst centred on the UK, does draw upon research and information that is more global in scope.

The first section provides an overview and definition of smart metering, as well as considering the benefits and challenges of smart meters. The second section focuses on the applications of smart water metering, subsequently highlighting the governance backdrop. The third section outlines smart meter installation, design, and interaction, as well as drawing attention to the influence of human behaviour and socio-demographic variables on water efficiency through smart metering. The fourth section details how smart meters can change water management and usage, with it also outlining the role played by water-saving household appliances. The concluding section seeks to remind the reader of the key findings of the review, in addition to detailing a rationale for why smart meters are necessary and how they can play a key role in encouraging and facilitating greater water efficiency in the UK.

Copies of the ROCK are available from the Foundation, price £15.00, less 20% to FWR members

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