Utility bills (household bills)


The term 'utilities' refers to services that we use at home or at a business address.

The main utilities we need are water, electricity and gas.

Although most homes have a mains water service, some may have their own well, eg on a rural farm.

All homes use electricity nowadays, although some rural households may generate their own electricity.

Not every home has a gas supply, but a significant number of homes and businesses do use gas for heating and cooking.

Other forms of energy used in homes are coal and oil.

Think about the type of energy that is used to heat your home.

Water bills

There are two different ways of calculating water bills.

Water meter

Owners are charged directly for the amount of water that they use if they have a water meter. Water bills consist of:

  • a charge for the amount for the water used
  • a charge for waste water / sewerage
  • a standing charge

The standing charge is a fixed amount of money that covers the water company costs, eg reading and maintaining the water meter.

Rateable value

For homes that don't have a water meter, water bills are charged according to the rateable value of the property. This is a fixed amount and isn't related to the actual amount of water used.

Water bills are usually sent to customers every \({3}\) months (also referred to as 'per quarter').


David and Holly live in a house that has a water meter. They take one meter reading on the \({12}^{th}\) March and another on the \({12}^{th}\) June. Use the table below to work out their water bill for the quarter.

Incomplete table to work out a water bill
Completed table to work out a water bill
Decimal values are rounded to the nearest penny.

Electricity and gas bills

Electricity and gas bills are worked out using a similar method to water bills. However, VAT (value-added tax) is added to these bills, at a rate of \({5}\%\).

Electricity can be charged at different rates, called tariffs. The tariffs can vary depending on the time of day, eg electricity used in the night can sometimes be cheaper than electricity used during the daytime.

The unit used to measure amounts of electricity is the kilowatt-hour \(({kWh})\).

The unit used to measure amounts of gas is the therm \(({thm})\).

A gas statement showing date and balance