Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Downsizing Residential Water Meter

AlexPetron Member Posts: 22
Hello all! Currently there is a 1" water meter serving my family's custom-built single-family home in New Jersey. When originally constructed over 50 years ago, the home boasted a dishwasher, in-ground pool, three bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry. After construction, seven people occupied the home. Today, dishes and utensils are washed in the kitchen sink, the pool is gone, only one bathroom is used, laundry is handled off-premises, and only two people reside in the home.

The monthly water bills for this property are ridiculous. Every month, the consumption is dwarfed by ever-skyrocketing facilities charges approaching $50/month, and I believe that since the consumption demand is significantly reduced, so too should the facilities charges. So I want to downgrade the meter to either a 5/8 or 1/2, but I need to know EXACTLY how to go about doing this.

Would I need to replace the connecting pipe, service pipe, tap, none of these, or all of these? Would I have to sign an affidavit or release? Would permits and/or an inspection of the plumbing be required? Is the water company permitted to deny such a request? How common is this type of request?

Thank you for any assistance!


  • Leon82
    Leon82 Member Posts: 684
    edited May 2019
    I would think you call the water company, it's their meter.

    Even with a 2"meter unless there is a leak after it it has no impact on water use. You can change too low flow faucets and heads. Do they water the grass or garden alot?

    Never mind, i miss read the post.
  • mikeg2015
    mikeg2015 Member Posts: 1,194
    They will just come, turn off the water, change the meter and use bushings as needed for the water meter unions.

    If you are fed by a 1” or 1-1/4” service line from the street, even a 1/2” meter will still have a lot of flow since there little pressure drop on the meter and header.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,147
    You do have to call your water utility -- changing the meter is not something which they will allow you to do yourself.

    That said, you also need to check with them about how they charge. If -- and only if -- a portion (or in some areas all) of the charge is based on the meter size you could save some money. However, if your charge is based solely on usage (sometimes plus a flat connection charge), changing the meter won't save you anything at all.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,495
    Water departments all charge differently. Where I am, most jurisdictions charge part of the bill on usage and part by "single family equivalent" (SFE) which is supposed to estimate your potential demand on their system. They don't care what size the meter is, it has to do with what it is hooked to. A typical single family home would be 1 SFE. If you have a pool or are running a restaurant, they calculate additional SFE's. I would set up an appointment with the water districts administrator and see how they do it and how you can save $.

    To answer your other questions, the water department will either insist on swapping the meter themselves or will require you to hire a licensed plumber.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited May 2019
    Here in NH they charge by usage and meter size.

    Here our house has a 1in line to street and meter "horn" , but 3/4 inch meter to save on meter charge. Dad's old house.

    Always seemed we didn't have as much pressure as our next door neighbor for lawn sprinklers. Had city come out to shut off water at street so we could replace bad valve before meter. They said flush out line for 10 minutes after. I ran some BIG hoses to meter hone and was surprised how I now had GREAT flow rate. Turned out the 1/2 inch copper we had comeing off the 3/4 line line made quite a pressure drop. Plus I've looked in store at hose facets, it's surpizing how SMALL flow hole is in most of them. I'm upgrading now so I can have great flow rate.

  • AlexPetron
    AlexPetron Member Posts: 22
    Thank you for all of your thoughts so far :) I definitely understand that the "regulated" water utility will have to provide and swap out the meter, and per my reading of the New Jersey BPU regulations, I believe the water company can impose a charge to change the meter. By my inquiry here on The Wall, I am trying to ascertain if any of you have encountered any situation in which the water utility could refuse this request or impose draconian fees and/or endeavors on the part of the customer to accomplish this request.

    As to reduced pressure, the existing pressure is MORE than adequate. In fact, if the customer shut-off ball-valve (picture attached) is only approximately 15% open, all of the plumbing fixtures in the home output sufficient water intensity. There is no lawn irrigation nor underground sprinkler system. The demands for domestic water consumption in this home could be described as minimal at best.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,535
    You do understand downsizing the meter is not going to change anything about your water bill? The fixture uses what it uses and consumption won't change by downsizing the meter. This has been mentioned already. So all you will accomplish with this endeavor is spending more money to have work done that then doesn't save any money, so you end up further in the hole than you are.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    delta T
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,091
    He's hoping to lower the static monthly "facilities fee" which he hopes is calculated based on the capacity of the service.
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    delta TAlexPetron
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,607
    When it comes right down to it, the water companies meter division will answer all of your questions and should be able to give you water conserving advice.
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited May 2019
    Talk to your water co.... should be some saving, but it's likely not that much per bill. But over years it can save a little if you don;t need larger meter's excess flow capability. Ask if they charge $ to come out to change meter, if do maybe wait till they swap out the meter. Here they swap and bring them back to the shop for checkup and re-calibration every ~ 10 years. I had them combine a trip to save me the extra charge once.

    Extra meter charge is why we never increased our meter size from 3/4 to 1 inch. Plus in our case I found our smaller garden valves and downstream pipes (1/2 inch) were responsible for our low flow rate to outdoor garden facets, not the meter.

    These days most hose facets they sell at Home Depot have pretty small diameter internal valve seats. Have to look hard for a full diameter one.

  • AlexPetron
    AlexPetron Member Posts: 22
    edited June 2019

    He's hoping to lower the static monthly "facilities fee" which he hopes is calculated based on the capacity of the service.

    A water company representative supervisor admitted that the facility charges I am seeking to reduce are based solely on the meter size.
    Leonard said:

    Talk to your water co...

    I have. I explained that the current and anticipated future water consumption demands for this home are significantly less, as I've described here in this thread. So far the company is refusing to accommodate, and the supervisor won't provide me a reason why....

  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited June 2019
    Here meter charge is based on meter size, ei 1/2, 3/4, 1 ........ inch.
    This charge is in addition to water consumption charge .

    Think I'ld ask for meter charge $ for different size meters, the saving might not be as much as you may think.

    Here city also bills for sewer which has no meter (usage is based on incoming metered water) and sewer quarterly base charge is larger than water meter charge. Lot of drinking water quality filtering improvements and EPA required sewer/ storm drain work going on.

    These base charges (not related to gallons used) help city offset cost of maintaining their water/sewer system


    Not lot of experience with meters but his behavior sounds odd. Maybe your city has some odd plumbing rule that meter size has to match piping size, or max possible usage flow rate . I'ld politely contact his boss and explain what your trying to do and ask for the reason for no change. Calmly try to get boss to see your side of things.

    Got to find out the rules before you can figure out how to get what you want.
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,541
    Around here, they size the meter to the number of bathrooms in the house. In some areas, they size the meter to the number of bedrooms (which doesn't seem to have any correlation to water consumption at all, although it may be an indicator of the potential number of people in the home). I think code requires a certain capacity based on Total Sq. Ft. or # of Bathrooms or # of bedrooms, depending on your municipality/local codes.
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited June 2019
    Sizing on number of bathrooms or facets makes sense ( things that might be on at same time)

    Heard of sizing sewer septic field on # of bedrooms (total water used) , but that makes no sense for sizing water meter ( flow rate). But some law makers I've seen are not technical ( dumb as a door knob, and do what someone else suggests...... who might also be dumb as a door knob....)

    Some laws are very OLD , non intuitive and based on old odd ball concepts/guesses/rule of thumbs. Like the old blue laws.

    In general city laws try to prevent someone ( home builder) from putting in a mickey mouse small system to save $$ then turn around and sell house to an unsuspecting new owner who'll then have problems if he trys to use the system in a normal way.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,644
    It's a good think I have a well. ....

    If charged a fee based on meter size, I'd have a 1/2" meter and a booster pump to save from having a dumb reoccurring fee. But hey I'm Scottish and frugality is in my blood I guess.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!