Unlocking Savings: Schools Could Save £974 by Switching Water Suppliers

  • Schools could save £974 per establishment from changing water suppliers, meaning across England 23.6 million could be saved in schools each year
  • Private hospitals could save the most money per establishment at £8,572

In 2017, the water market in England was deregulated to encourage competition and improve customer service. This means businesses, charities, and public sector organisations could select their water suppliers for the first time, opening the door to potential savings of 10% per year. However, many businesses have yet to capitalise on this opportunity.

In light of this, a new study by business utilities comparison site Clearsight Energy has spotlighted the business sectors that could benefit most from switching water suppliers, with private hospitals and restaurants among those set to save the most.

The analysis estimated water usage for different business types in England, comparing it to national suppliers’ rates. Although it can vary depending on where a business is based, assessing the number of establishments highlighted potential annual savings for businesses and sectors through supplier selection.

Private hospitals rank first for potential savings from changing water suppliers, with each hospital having an average potential savings of £8,572. This is the equivalent of £1.86 million when multiplied across the estimated 218 private hospitals in the UK. Each year, private hospitals across the UK use around 46,977 cubic metres of water each. That’s the same amount of water it takes to wash 657,678 loads of washing.

Poultry farms come in second, with potential yearly savings of £5,394 per farm. This is the equivalent of £12.6 million when multiplied across the 2,337 poultry farms in the UK. Each year, farmers use an estimated 29,560,876 litres of water to rear one billion broilers (chickens raised for meat), around the same as 325,170 bathtubs filled with water.


Restaurants take the third position, with each establishment having potential savings of £2,647 per year. When multiplied across the estimated 42,477 full-service restaurants in the UK, it equates to combined savings of around £112 million. Each year, restaurants across the UK use approximately 14,508 cubic litres of water each, equivalent to about 61,325 cups of coffee.

Dairy farms place fourth, with each farm potentially saving £1,638 yearly. An estimated 7,850 dairy producers across the UK could share a combined savings of £12.7 million annually. On top of this, it was revealed that the price difference between the lowest-priced and most expensive water suppliers is £24,851 a year.

Schools round off the top five with potential savings of £974 each year. When multiplied across the 24,442 schools in England, it equates to more than £23.8 million combined savings. That amount of money could cover 8.8 million school meals. This is equivalent to providing 125 schools with lunches for their pupils for an entire academic year.


Annual Water Savings for Businesses by Switching Suppliers

Rank Business Avg. Yearly Water Usage (m³) Highest Yearly Supplier Cost (UK) Price Difference: Highest vs. Lowest Supplier Potential Savings Per Location (10%) Sector Savings Potential (10%)
1. Private Hospitals 46,977 £159,327 £130,051 £8,572 £1,868,774
2. Poultry Farms 29,561 £100,259 £81,836 £5,394 £12,606,405
3. Restaurants 14,508 £49,204 £40,163 £2,647 £112,451,280
4. Dairy Farms 8,976 £30,445 £24,851 £1,638 £12,858,300
5. Schools 5,340 £18,112 £14,784 £974 £23,817,860
6. Beauty Salons 1,502 £5,096 £4,159 £274 £13,276,363
7. Cinemas 729 £2,471 £2,017 £133 £112,480
8. Office Building 481 £1,631 £1,331 £88 £377,927
9. Barber Shops 306 £1,038 £847 £56 £1,061,114


Placing sixth are beauty salons, with each of the estimated 48,425 hair and beauty salons operating across the UK potentially saving up to £274 per year. This equates to a combined savings of £13.2 million nationally on the 1,502 cubic metres of water used daily in each location.

Cinemas rank seventh, with each establishment having a potential savings of £133 per year. It was also estimated that the 846 cinemas across the UK could save a combined £112,480 with a simple switch. One of the most significant expenses to a cinema’s water bill is the estimated 4.8 litres from moviegoers flushing toilets, which is responsible for around 63% of customer water usage.

Office buildings have the eighth highest potential water savings at £88 per building per year. The amount of water used in the 4,308 office buildings across the UK each year is the equivalent of 39 million office water coolers, and when combined, they could save a combined £377,927 on their business water bills.

Barber shops round off the ninth place. By switching suppliers, the average barber shop could save around £56 each year on their water bills. It’s estimated that all the barber shops across the UK could save a combined £1 million on their water bills each year. Each of the estimated 19,000 barber shops uses around 306 cubic metres of water each year. That’s the equivalent volume of half a million pints of beer.

The analysis uncovers substantial potential savings for businesses willing to switch water suppliers. From cinemas to dairy farms, sectors across England stand to benefit financially, with savings reaching into the tens of millions for some. Although savings can vary dramatically depending on where a business is based, this insight significantly underscores the importance of exploring alternative suppliers to operational costs.

Speaking on the findings, a spokesperson from Clearsight Energy said:

“This study highlights a significant opportunity for businesses across England to reassess their water supply choices, potentially unlocking substantial savings with sectors like cinemas and private hospitals poised to benefit the most.

“Many people might not realise that schools have to pay their own bills. They receive core funding from the government to aid essential running costs, including salaries for teachers and staff. However, the schools are still responsible for budgeting, and even though savings can change depending on where a school is based in the country, these potential savings could still provide equipment or educational trips.”