Posted by Jill Kerby in Features.

Well, thanks to the final decision of the Commission for Energy Regulation, we now know exactly what Irish Water will be charging us for water, at least from October 1 st 2014 to until nine months after our homes are metered.

After this flat rate charging period is over, the size of your household bill will depend on how much water your household uses over and above the 30,000 litres worth of free water every household will receive and the 21,000 free litres for every child multiplied by €4.88 per 1,000 litres.

Here’s my blow-by-blow account of the start of the Great Irish Water Charge:

  • Water charges started racking up last Wednesday, October 1st, whether your household (whether you are an owner or tenant) is metered or not.
  • A flat rate-charge will apply to every household for up to nine months after your meter is installed. If you have an Irish Water meter installed now, you will still receive three, flat-rate, quarterly bills that record your water usage since October 1st. The first quarterly bill (Oct–Dec 2014) arrives in January 2015.
  • Un-metered households will pay the flat rate charge until they are metered, plus another nine months, that is, three metered billing periods.
  • The flat-rate period charge is: €176 for a one-adult household and an additional €102 for every extra adult: €28 for two adults, €380 for three adults, €482 for four adults, €584 for five adults, etc.
  • Children under 18 go free during the flat-rate billing period.
  • Every household will get a 30,000 litre allocation of free water a year worth €146 .40 based on a price of €4.88 per thousand litres. Each child under 18 will be allocated 21,000 free litres which is worth €10.25.
  • Once the entire flat-rate billing period is over—that is, nine months after your household is metered, you will pay €4.88 per every 1,000 litres of water consumed, less the free allocations that apply to your household.
  • Households with their own water supply on a septic tank will only pay €2.44 per 1,000 litres used, less the free allocations. If you provide your own water and wastewater disposal, you are not an Irish Water customer and will have no bill.
  • Holiday homes will be billed a flat-rate of €125 a year.
  • If your household is metered, and during the nine months billing period in which you still pay the flat charge a review of your bills show that you have consumed less water than is represented by the flat rate bill, you will be entitled to a refund of the difference.
  • There is no standing charge on bills, and unlike your electricity or gas bill, Irish Water bills are not subject to any VAT.
  • Households on boil water or water restriction notices will not pay for their water.
  • People with medical conditions that result in high water consumption can apply for a subsidy, but there is no list of qualifying medical conditions.
  • People in receipt of the Household Benefits Package will receive an additional €100 (€25×4) payment towards their annual bill.
  • To claim the free water allocations, the householder—the person to whom the bill will be addressed—is required to supply their PPS number and that of any children under age 18. Without the PPS number, the suggestion is that the free water allocations will not be given, even if the rest of the form is filled in accurately, and the bills are paid.
  • What is not entirely clear is how Irish Water have established the flat rate, assessed, pre-meter bill. In many other European countries the bill includes the price of the actual water (typically under €2 per 1,000 litres in the UK), a standing charge and VAT. Here, the price of the water—€4.88 per 1000 litres—is the only base price we will get on our bill.
  • The amount of water the average adult and child use every day is only an estimate based on a small number of metered households and has varied from 150 litres down to 110 litres, the amount now being used. Child usage has gone down from 104 litres a day (38,000 a year) to 57.5 litres (20,000 a year).
  • For the assessment, flat rate period, my family of three adults will be charged €380 a year. After that, if we only use 110 litres each a day, we will pay €441.40 (that includes the free allocation). If we use a more likely 140 litres each, the bill will be €601.70.
  • The important thing is to try and accurately monitor your daily use, multiply it by 365 days, subtract the annual free allocations and then multiply however many thousand litres used by €4.88.

If you have a personal finance question for Jill, please email her at [email protected].