Soon, all Finnish households - small apartments included - will pay a water bill based on actual consumption.
Currently, a significant proportion of housing companies still base their water bills on other metrics, such as the number of residents in an apartment, or water unit cost per square metre. Tenants are often charged a fixed amount for water consumption. But the Finnish government has just started the process to change that system.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, in future, remotely read water meters for both warm and cold water will be installed in each apartment in new buildings with multiple apartments and water bills will be based on actual measured consumption. The Government proposes that related legislative amendments will be submitted to the President of the Republic for approval on 13 November 2020.
After the entry into force of the legislation on 23 November 2020, the requirements will apply to new buildings for which a building permit is applied.
Existing housing companies will switch to billing based on actual consumption gradually, with the installation of remotely read water meters in connection with the water and sewage system renovations.
The legislation will implement the amendments required by the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive.
The Finnish government says that this reform will encourage people "to save energy by adopting more energy-efficient household water and heating energy consumption patterns." The reform will also involve a billing system based on actual consumption, and ensuring access to information on energy consumption.
The installation of apartment-specific water meters became a statutory requirement in new buildings in 2011, and in connection with water and sewage system renovations in 2013. However, the use of water meters for measuring consumption and for billing based on consumption has not previously been required by law.
The proposed act requires that information be provided to shareholders in housing companies, tenants and holders of right of occupancy on their measured water consumption and other billing criteria. A Government decree is to be issued specifying in more detail the information to be provided.
Billing of heating and cooling
In addition, district heating and cooling supplied to new buildings are to be measured with remotely read meters. Any district heating and cooling meters already installed must be upgraded to or replaced by remotely read meters by 31 December 2026.
Government says more extensive obligations will be imposed on district heating suppliers to provide information on consumption and fuels to their customers. Customers should have access, either in their heating bill or via the Internet, to information on their energy consumption, the climate impacts of their consumption, fuels used for energy production, and a comparison of energy use by other similar consumers.
Further provisions on the allocation of costs of heating, cooling and water consumption will be laid down in a Government decree.