SOUTHAMPTON residents can save on water by fitting meters according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Southampton says a metered connection brings an average reduction in water consumption of 16.5 per cent.

It is based on a study of a five-year programme to install almost half a million water meters in south-east England.

The research also shows that people cut down their consumption very early in the switching process, even though metered charges aren’t activated until after three months.

Economists Dr Mirco Tonin and Dr Carmine Ornaghi have been working with Southern Water to examine the impact of the company’s five year programme.

Dr Tonin said: “What is particularly remarkable from a behavioural perspective is that households start reducing their consumption as soon as the meter is installed – even though they do not immediately have financial incentives to do so, due to the three month ‘grace period’ between installation and switch of contract.

“This could well be because households take into account that it takes time to change consumption habits, or because the installation focuses their attention on water consumption.”

On average customers saved around 50 litres per day by the third month of a metered connection.

Susan Stockwell, chief customer officer at Southern Water, added: “We would like to thank our customers for their support and efforts in reducing water usage. Across the region, by the end of the five-year programme, customers will be saving more than 30 million units of water every day.”

The researchers will now continue their work by exploring the motives for saving water.