Consumers will be hit by water bill price hikes of up to 9.1% from 1 April.

The water regulator, Ofwat, has announced water companies will be allowed to hike bills on 1 April in England and Wales, although prices in Scotland will be frozen for the billing year 2011/2012.

The average yearly rise for a combined water and sewerage bill is 4.6%, which will see consumers facing an estimated price increase of roughly 8 for water and 8 for sewerage (see the Water Bills Cost Cutting guide).

The largest water only price rise is a huge 9.1% or 17 for Northumbrian: Essex and Suffolk customers, whereas Portsmouth customers see the smallest price increase of 2.5%, an estimated increase of only 2.

South West Water customers will see the steepest price increase on sewerage bills paying an extra 14 per year, whilst Wessex Water customers face the smallest sewerage price increase of 4.

How can you cut costs?

Consumer body, the Consumer Council for Water, has released some tips that could help customers cut their annual water and sewerage charges.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, says: "Customers should not pay any more than they need to for their water or sewerage services.

"By taking a few minutes to consider our money saving tips and to check their bills, customers can avoid losing out, and in some cases could make real savings."

1. Think about switching to a water meter

Money Saving Expert's general rule of thumb is; if there are more bedrooms than people living in your house, you should consider getting a water meter.

You can calculate whether you can save by switching on the Consumer Council for Water website.

Meters are installed free of charge and a single person living alone could save around 100 per year by getting one. Also, if you're not happy with it generally you can switch back to the unmetered charge anytime within the first 12 months.

2. Use less water

Fixing dripping taps, installing a water saving device in toilets, taking showers rather than baths and collecting rainwater for use in the garden are all great ways to be more water efficient and save money.

3. Check your sewerage bill

If you have a soakaway, which drains rainwater into the ground rather than into the public sewerage system, you can apply to your local sewerage company to have surface water drainage charges removed, saving you around 30 each year.

If you have a septic tank make sure you're not being charged as you shouldn't be paying any sewerage charges.

4. Look out for special schemes

If you're struggling to pay your bills there are special tariffs and assistance schemes available. Just contact your water company to see what help you're eligible for.

If you receive income related benefits, have a water meter and either three or more dependent children, or a medical condition that means you need to use more water, you should be eligible for the WaterSure scheme.

A low income household of five with a water meter could be spending around 700 per year on water but applying for the WaterSure scheme could enable you to cut this bill in half.

Further reading/key links

Cut costs: Water bills
Cheaper energy: Cheap Gas & Electricity