New deadline for homeowners to register for water
Householders have been given until the end of the year to register their details with Irish Water and avoid paying an annual standard charge of €260 and losing their "free" child allowances.
The water regulator says anyone who registers by the end of December 2015 will receive their full entitlement of allowances, but that those who delay until next year will be penalised.
Some 984,800 people have registered with Irish Water, or 66pc of the customer base.
Those who register in 2016 will only be allowed claim allowances for the billing period in place at the time, plus the previous three months.
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has also decided that families who believe they are being overcharged because they have a faulty meter will have to pay €100 to have it tested.
The meter will be independently checked and if it is not operating as designed, the money will be refunded. However, the charge is subject to review, because the CER believes it may cost more than €100 to complete the tests.
Other changes announced to water charges include requiring customers to wait a year after a meter is installed to see if they are entitled to a rebate.
"The rebate will be calculated after one full year of metered usage," the CER said.
"It will be paid as a once-off credit to your account of the difference between the unmetered charge you paid, which could span more than one year, and the amount which you would have paid if you had been metered."
Customers can also pay a minimum of €5 in post offices and Payzone outlets towards their bills, down from €10. A maximum charge of €160 for a household with one adult, and €260 for homes with two or more adults, will apply until the end of 2018.
The CER has also reduced the amount of money which Irish Water can collect. This is because the utility is now exempt from paying commercial rates of €60m a year, meaning costs have reduced.