Corporate Responsibility

Reducing what we use.

Last reviewed:
Encouraging water efficient behaviours and delivering water savings programmes are essential parts of our long term plans to manage water more sustainably. Together with metering and leakage management, we’re delivering the UK’s largest and most diverse water efficiency programme. Our established programme promotes responsible use of water among our customers, and highlights the benefits of saving water at home and in the workplace. We continue to encourage our customers to save water, energy and money – saving over 11 million litres of water a day during 2017/18, (based on Ofwat’s assumed savings).

Installing a water efficient shower head.

We’re delivering water efficiency initiatives for households, businesses, schools, local authorities and housing associations. Our customer engagement efforts include home visits, websites, multiple social media platforms, regional campaigns and online calculator tools.

Our programme builds on our successful AMP5 and 6 initiatives, and takes on board recommendations and results obtained from regulators, non-government organisation (NGOs) and customers to help shape our programme. Our plan also aligns to the Water Efficiency Strategy for the UK produced by Waterwise, delivering several of its core actions. Here’s how we’re aiming to enhance our best practice approach with our AMP7 plan:

  • Rolling out wider-scale smarter home and business visits.
  • Running high-profile campaigns (for instance, leaky loos) to cut core demand.
  • Maximising integration of our water efficiency and smart metering programmes.
  • Taking innovative approaches to customer engagement and behaviour change marketing.
  • Using large-scale non-financial incentives to reward lower water consumption.
  • Communicating water efficiency messages year round, not just in summer.

Helping customers save.

In-home and business retrofits.

Our award winning in-home retrofit initiative combines installing free water saving devices with tailored water saving advice. We offer Smarter Home Visits (SHVs) to all customers with a new smart meter, increasing their awareness of the water they use, and maximising their potential water, energy and money savings.

We delivered over 69,000 SHVs in 2017/18, and installed over 174,000 water and energy saving devices through our activities. These visits saved 5.33 Ml/d of water last year (based on Ofwat’s assumed savings). During these visits we also fix leaky loos and offer selected customers free benefit entitlement checks and debt advice. An average of £2,791 per year has been identified for each family referred for this service, if they were eligible for unclaimed benefits.

We’re also increasing our water efficiency efforts with small to medium sized businesses. Through our Smarter Business Visits (SBVs), we’re fixing internal leaks, converting WCs to dual-flush and installing urinal controls. We carried out 527 visits in 2017/18, which saved 1.06 Ml/d (based on calculated savings from installed products and fixes). Click on the case studies below to read more:

Long term behaviour change.

In 2017/18, in line with Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) and the UK Water Efficiency Strategy document recommendations, we’ve really increased our focus on engaging with our customers on the importance of efficient water use, and the bigger picture on water resources. Our water efficiency communications aim to raise awareness of why we all need to save water, and encourage more people to take advantage of our water efficiency programmes and tools.

We’ve built on our ‘Be Water Smart’ water efficiency education campaign in Oxford in early 2017, which helped raise awareness of local water issues with the message ‘more people, less water to go around’. In 2017/18, we developed this campaign further to highlight ‘there’s no substitute for water’, to help customers really value this precious resource. We’ve produced a simple animation to help explain the complex issues around supply/demand deficit, and help our customers understand the wider issues and why it’s important for us all to be water smart. Watch the video below:

We’re improving our website and making it easier to access online tools and find advice on how to save water. Our free online water and energy calculator helps households identify their water consumption, links this to water and energy costs, and identifies which water saving devices and behaviours they could change to save water, energy and money.

We also offer all of our household customers free water saving devices, which can be ordered online, over the phone and by post. In 2017/18 we launched a new web ordering process making it easier for our customers to find out more about the free devices we offer and quicker to order them. We provided around 40,000 household customers with water saving freebies and are using customer feedback to continually improve our service.

Research and innovation.

Following a collaborative UK water sector research project, and a parallel Thames Water initiative, our focus on internal leakage has continued. Leaky loos are one of the most common causes of high water use, but they often go unnoticed or are just left leaking. Our smart meter data and research shows that leaky loos can lose between 100 and 2,500 litres per day, often more than doubling a metered water bill. We estimate that 5 per cent of households have a constantly leaking loo. We now offer all our customers free leaky loo and tap repairs when we identify a leak during a Smarter Home Visit. In 2017/18 we delivered over 6,000 free internal leak fixes. To increase the public’s awareness of wastage losses and the importance of preventing this unnecessary water loss, we have a dedicated page on leaky loos on our website to give customers more information, complete with a video about how to spot a leaky loo:
We’ve previously successfully piloted an incentive scheme in Reading to assess the effectiveness of providing customers with non-financial rewards for reducing their water consumption. In 2017/18 we expanded this pilot incentives scheme by offering it to over 140,000 customers with a smart meter in London. Developed in partnership with Green Redeem, a recycling reward specialist, this initiative awards points to customers every time they save water and engage with the web platform. They can use these points on vouchers, entry into prize draws and more. Find out more by clicking on the case study below:

Building successful partnerships.

We’ve continued to develop our partnership with Action for the River Kennet (ARK), raising awareness of the value of water for both wildlife and people. ARK supports our water saving campaign by offering free ‘Water Matters’ activities and projects for schoWe’ve continued to develop our partnership with Action for the River Kennet (ARK), raising awareness of the value of water for wildlife and people alike. ARK supports our water saving campaign by offering free ‘Water Matters’ activities and projects for schools and community groups in the Reading, Newbury and Marlborough areas.

We’re working with local authorities and housing associations to promote water efficiency advice to their residents. We provide our free water efficiency devices as part of their own home visit programmes, as well as access to our specialist water and energy saving app. During 2017/18 we carried out a trial project delivering around 34,500 water and energy saving visits with London and Quadrant (L&Q) to their residents in London. For more details, click on the link below:

Our Water Efficiency Schools Programme is one of the UK’s largest schools education programmes for water efficiency, running across 40-80 schools each year. Over 5,000 students have taken part in our schools programme during 2017/18. Learn more by clicking on the case study below: We’re active members of the UK Water Efficiency Network, on steering groups for UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) projects and the development of a UK Water Efficiency Strategy, and part of Save Water South East (SWSE). SWSE is a two-year partnership between Waterwise, the Environment Agency and six water companies in the south east of England. We’ve joint funded this partnership to promote and create a water saving culture in the south east. During the year, SWSE continued to build relationships with key stakeholders, run the innovative #Thinkwater campaign, and also set up a second conference with local authorities and housing associations.

Award winning ideas. 

Our efforts to improve the quality and increase the quantity of our water efficiency efforts were rewarded in 2017/18. Our bathroom refurbishment research and large scale rollout of water and energy efficient facilities in our main office buildings won the Eco Friendly Toilet of Year Award for England 2017. Our Smarter Home Visits were also shortlisted in the SHIFT Awards 2017 and EDIE Sustainability Leaders Awards 2018.