Why Scottish businesses should be checking their water (bills)

Ellie Campbell

By Ellie Campbell, a freelance content writer and campaign manager for Castle Water

IN times like these, keeping bills under control is vital for any business. Whether you’re running a small café in the town centre or have a whole warehouse full of staff working away, every business in Scotland needs water to ensure operations are running smoothly.

With so many companies having had to adjust to things like working from home and reduced capacity with staff on-premises, one area any business owner, or those responsible for bills, should be checking for savings is the water bill. It is all too easy to overlook in the same way you would your internet or electric, but there are benefits to being somewhat curious with your most recent bills.

Who better to point out what to be looking for other than the lovely people at Castle Water, one of Scotland’s highest-rated business water suppliers, with some tips for any business owner looking to save a little on water bills. It all starts with a little comparison.

Tip 1: Check your last few bills against last year

If you have any kind of business where the number of staff (or customers) on the premises has gone down significantly, your water usage should have gone down as well. Many businesses in Scotland are still stuck with estimated billings, in large part due to not having smart meters installed.

If this is the case for your business, compare your bills for the year so far with what they were last year. When the figures are similar to each other, you’ll want to get in touch with your water supplier and ask them to readjust your tariff. And if they imply there’s nothing they can do to change things, start shopping around (remember that the market is open in Scotland).

Tip 2: Is your wastage the same?

With fewer people about, your level of wastewater and effluent should be the biggest difference in your bills. Now, while it is simple for water usage to be monitored (again, smart meters are your best friend here), wastewater is incredibly difficult to calculate.

Waste consumption is generally calculated by taking the average daily consumption of water from a business and multiplying that against the period of time your invoice covers and a specific waste tariff rate. If you are in the position where virtually next to no one is on-site every day, you will know waste is almost zero. So again, check that bill and make sure you are not being charged for ‘pre-Covid’ waste levels.

Tip 3: Check your adjustments

All water bills should have an adjustment figure. It is usually hidden away at the end of the bill, but it is an important figure. The adjustment figure is included as a credit or debit on your account. It’s a way of helping keep your bills in check with what you’ve actually used. Depending on water usage, it will either have an incurred charge from a few months ago or credit you for an overestimate.

Right now, that figure should (if you’re working with limited capacity) have credit in place for both water and waste figures. When you pay per month, the variance will be minute. When you pay quarterly, you should find that there is credit in there for anyone being billed through estimates.

Tip 4: Claim back VAT

Reading the adjustments can be a bit confusing, which is why it helps to have previous bills at hand so you can compare figures. When doing so, have a quick check of what VAT charges were on previous bills. If you notice your latest bill is crediting you back, it should also be giving you some VAT back, so keep an eye on that.

And if it’s all too confusing, get on the phone with your provider and ask them in detail how your VAT is being calculated.

Tip 5: If you were closed, claim it back

One final tip that will help anyone who completely forgot about their water bills while closed up. You may be able to claim money back or spread the cost of bills by asking your provider if they have Temporary Closure practices or a Covid scheme in place.

Some may not advertise as such or provide the literature when your bill comes in the post. These are schemes where your payments will be split over longer periods to help lift the burden.