Is mineral water cheaper than tap water?

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Tap sculpture

Lee Beaumont, a 25-year-old who runs a charity in Leeds, was asked to pay a £14 a month standing charge by Yorkshire Water. He decided that to save money he would have his water cut off instead - and use bottled mineral water.

He says that the money he's saving will help him renovate his home.

Mineral water

Beaumont told the Daily Mail that he has bought mineral water and baby wipes in bulk. In the morning he washes with the wipes, and in the evening he has a strip wash in bottled water.

He also occasionally pops round to friends to use their shower - or takes free trials at the gym in order to use theirs for nothing.

When he needs to flush the toilet he pours the contents of the dog bowl into it, and he refills the bowl with more mineral water.

And he doesn't wash up because he uses disposable plates and cutlery.

He told the newspaper that all his water needs cost just £10 a month. So for him at least mineral water is cheaper than bottled water.

Extreme

However, it's fair to say that Beaumont is an extreme money-saver. According to the Daily Telegraph, he also had his gas cut off because his boiler stopped working and he didn't have the money for repairs. In the winter he lives in one room, uses an electric blanket to keep warm, and works at night because it's cheaper. He claims to spend £4 a week on electricity. He has also set up a premium rate phone number for cold callers and has made £300 as a result.

There are plenty of extreme money savers around. There's Judith Wenban from Gravesend, who describes herself as queen of extreme coupling. She spends hours trawling the net for coupons and vouchers, and then tailors her shop to only buy those things she can get with a big discount. She told the Telegraph that her average monthly shop is £50 for four people.

Then there's a woman who blogs as Frugal Granola, who stopped work in order to cut out the costs of going to work, the need for a second car, and childcare, and then spent all her time saving money: including making her own pasta and bread and washing disposable nappies. She also cut off her internet connection and visited the library to blog.

Or there are the many freegans, who scavenge from bins outside supermarkets - taking discarded dented tins, food on its sell by date at 5pm, and jars which have been thrown away for being a bit sticky. They say they are avoiding food going to landfill, and are living for nothing, but it's worth bearing in mind that aside from having to rummage through bins, what they are doing is illegal - the food in the bins still technically belongs to the supermarkets.

Clearly you have to be a certain type of enthusiast to be able to fit extreme money saving into your life. So Beaumont doesn't have a solution that would work for many people.

What we can all learn

However, he does show us how profligate many of us are in the way we use water. If you have more bedrooms than people in your home, you can save money by having a water meter installed and taking sensible water-saving measures, such as using old dishwater to water the garden, only putting a washing machine or dishwasher on when it's full, or putting a brick in the toilet cistern so it uses less water each flush.

However, if you have a lot of people in the house, and have children of an age where they only have to get out of bed in order to be covered in mud, then you may actually be better off without a meter and taking the enormous cost of water on the chin. You should still avoid being wasteful with water, but it won't save you any money.