What is the average water bill?

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Not only is water a resource we often take for granted, it’s a household expense we begrudgingly have to pay every few months, while costs only ever seem to go in one direction.

This leads to questioning the amount on your water bills, as well as being curious about what your neighbour pays. That’s why we have compiled a guide on average water bills across the country. We show average water bills in each state, and by age group, household size and income, plus list a few things you should keep an eye out for.

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Average Water Bill in Australia

A Canstar Blue survey in May 2020 found the average quarterly water bill in Australia to be $272. Households in Western Australia reported the lowest average water bills at $234, while those in Tasmania reported the highest average at $365. Across the country, just 26% of respondents said they can accurately predict their next water bill.

Average water bills across the states

The following table shows average quarterly water bills across Australia, based on a Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,300 households. The costs reported include households of all sizes.

State Average Quarterly Water Bill
Western Australia $234
New South Wales $246
Victoria $259
Queensland $300
South Australia $324
Tasmania $365

Source: Canstar Blue research, May 2020.

As outlined above, households in Tasmania have the highest water bills, followed by South Australia and Queensland. Households in Western Australia report the lowest quarterly bills, with New South Wales and Victoria not far behind. Keep reading for a detailed analysis of average water bills across each state and territory.

Running water from tap

Average Water Bills in Sydney/NSW

Across New South Wales, we found the average quarterly water bill to be $246. While these figures are the average, almost a third of bill-payers in NSW (32%) believe their water charges are too high, while 53% make an effort to reduce water usage to cut back on costs.

Average Water Bills in Melbourne/VIC

Our survey found the average water bill in Victoria to be $259 per quarter. The survey also found that four in 10 Victorians believe their water charges are too expensive (40%), while almost half of bill-payers (49%) make an effort to reduce water usage to cut back on costs.

Average Water Bills in Brisbane/QLD

Queenslanders pay an average of $300 a quarter for water bills, which is about middle ground compared to other states. Our survey found that 48% of QLD bill-payers believe they are paying too much for water, while almost half of households in QLD (49%) make an effort to limit water usage to save on costs.

Average Water Bills in Adelaide/SA

In South Australia, residents are forking out an average of $324 per quarter on water bills. It’s not a shock that half of SA bill-payers (50%) reported that water is too expensive and that 45% consciously make an effort to lower water usage to save on costs.

Average Water Bills in Perth/WA

Western Australians pay on average $234 per quarter for their water, which is the lowest in Australia. Despite having the cheapest average water bills in the country, 42% of bill-payers in WA believe water charges are too high, while 54% make an effort to lower their water usage to save on costs.

Average Water Bills in Hobart/TAS

Tasmanians reported the highest average water bills in our survey, paying $365 every quarter. Our survey also found that 43% of bill-payers in Tasmania believe they’re paying too much for water, with 39% lowering their water usage to save on costs.

Average Water Bills by Household Size

The table below displays average water bills in Australia per quarter by household size.

Household Size Average Quarterly Water Bill
1 $221
2 $268
3 $312
4 $323
5 or more $372

Source: Canstar Blue research, May 2020.

You’ll notice that larger households pay more for water, with a difference of about $150 between the smallest and largest properties. It’s pretty simple, the more people in your home, the bigger your water bills are likely to be.

Average Water Bills by Age Group

In our analysis, we uncover the average water bills across each age group, which might be startling for the younger Australians out there. On a national level, here are the average quarterly water bills by age group.

Age Group Average Quarterly Water Bill
18 to 29 years $349
30 to 39 years $294
40 to 49 years $259
50 to 59 years $261
60 to 69 years $243
70 years and over $216

Source Canstar Blue research, May 2020.

These figures highlight that water bills tend to drop for the most part as you get older. This could be explained by any water concessions or rebates that senior Australians receive, or it could be down to the water usage habits of each age group. For instance, those in a younger age bracket may live in a share house with multiple occupants, or have a large family with higher consumption needs than those who are older.

Average Water Bills by Household Income

The following table shows average water bills per quarter by household income.

Household Income Average Quarterly Water Bill
Less than $30,000 $205
$30,000 to $49,999 $258
$50,000 to $79,999 $270
$80,000 to $119,999 $295
More than $120,000 $295

Source Canstar Blue research, May 2020.

In our survey findings, it appears that lower income households do pay less for water than higher income households, although there could be multiple factors at play here. For example, a higher income household would likely be living in a larger home, and in turn, using more water. Average water bills aren’t that much cheaper for low income households, suggesting that water is just one of those grudge expenses we all have to budget for, regardless of how much money we make.

Water Billing Frequency

In our survey, 70% of households said they receive quarterly water bills. Monthly billing recorded the next highest frequency at 11% across Australia. Keep in mind that most bill-payers should expect an invoice every quarter, but they can discuss their billing options with their water provider directly.

What impacts average water bills?

Australian money in kitchen drain

No matter what type of household you’re in, somebody is footing the water bill, and whether you’re a tenant, landlord or owner-occupier, no two bills are ever the same. While comparing your water bill to the average may give you a little peace of mind, there are a few factors that can add pressure to your water costs. These include:

  • Seasonal water usage: Differences between warmer and cooler months can result in a huge impact on water usage habits. In summer, you may water your garden more, while in winter you may take longer showers.
  • Water usage habits: Has there been a change in water consumption? Perhaps you’ve added new lawn to your backyard which needs the sprinklers on longer, or you’ve added another family member to your home (fur babies included).
  • Water leaks: A leaky pipe or toilet can easily blow out your water bill, and often you may not even know about it. Hire a licenced plumber to take a look or conduct your own meter read to identify if water is leaking somewhere.
  • Large appliances: Most appliances that use water will come with a water efficiency label, indicating how much water they need to operate. Dishwashers and washing machines are the main culprits, so be sure to check the efficiency of your appliances’ cycle settings.
  • Where you live: Much like electricity and gas, you’re not only charged for using water, but also for having water supplied to your address. If you live in a regional area or a region with a desalination plant, you could be paying more than somebody else a few postcodes away.
  • Water bill readings: Most households will have their water meters read by their local water company – usually every three months. You can, however, conduct your own meter reading and send it through to your supplier, that way there’s no questioning the amount due.

The final word on average water bills

Chances are you’re not overly happy with the price you’re paying for water. There is a silver lining though – by being mindful of a few things, you can easily start to see your overall water costs trickle downhill. You should start by identifying where the greatest water consumption is coming from and take some practical measures to reduce it. This could mean taking shorter showers, only using the dishwasher or washing machine when you really need to, or simply turning the tap off when you brush your teeth! From here, you’ll be able to better recognise ways to save and hopefully, be better than average.

Additional reading:

Image credits: Roman R/Shutterstock.com, MichaelHahn/Shutterstock.com

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