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Usage-based water fee schemes to expand in Finland

A recently-approved law amendment could result in higher bills for households that use a lot of water, an expert says.

Mies pesee parvekeoven lasia.
Man washes a window, file photo. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Fees that consumers in Finland pay for tap water will increasingly be based on actual consumption levels rather than flat fees.

Particularly regarding apartment-dwellers, water bills are currently often based on the number of residents in the home.

But following an EU energy efficiency directive, Finnish parliament approved an amendment to water fee laws earlier this month. The change will impact how housing companies charge tenants and residents for water.

Dwelling-specific water meters have been required to be installed in newly constructed properties Finland since 2011. Then, in 2013, the separated water meters needed to be installed during pipe renovation projects.

However, to date, housing associations have not been required to bill tenants individually based on water consumption, even if the water meters were already installed -- but the newly-approved amendment will change that.

Change not universal

Petri Pylsy, leading expert on energy and climate at the Finnish Real Estate Federation, told Yle on Tuesday that it will not be a dramatic change, noting that the new rules affect new buildings and plumbing system renovations and that some housing companies will use the fixed water fees for quite a long time to come.

Heikki Väisänen, director of the Energy Authority, said there are huge differences in the amount of water used by households and that the law change will help those who use less water to save money, while big water users will end up paying more.

On average in Finland, people consume as little as 80 litres of water per day, or as much as more than 200 litres.

"If you consume more than the housing company has previously consumed on average, you may have to pay more if you're unable or unwilling to change your usage habits," Pylsy explained.

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