Submetering for Savings Conservation Kicks in When Residents Are Paying

Funny thing about human nature—it’s not impulsively "natural" at all. Despite knowing that 1.1 billion people lack clean drinking water and thousands of children die from the diseases in that dirty water, people living in better circumstances tend to ignore their own ability to decrease the amount of water waste through sensible, environmental practices. Like fixing the leaking toilet, turning the water off, upgrading appliances, taking shorter showers or defrosting food in the refrigerator instead of under running water, in other words, using less water.

The same holds true for gas and electric use. In condominium residences, where multiple units may share one “portal” with a single meter—and, therefore, simply split the utility cost—residents are less cognizant of waste.

Now, with half the country sweltering for most of 2014 and drought affecting everything from water supplies to the prices of vegetables and fruit, the issue of conservation has taken on a note of urgency. One way to save energy, as condominium managers know, is to install submetering (“real-time”) systems for water, gas and electric utilities.

Utility submetering is the process of allocating utility costs to individual residents in multifamily buildings. Costs are allocated on the basis of actual use as measured by a submeter installed in each unit. Each month the meter is read using a variety of meter reading methods and equipment. Meter data is collected and processed according to current local municipality’s rates. Residents will then receive a monthly billing statement with their calculated portion of the utility usage. Residents with big families, paying the same rate as singles for their water use under a single-metering system, may protest. But they'll also start to use less water. Statistics show at least a 20 percent reduction in usage after the installation of submetering systems.

Turns out that when the bucks used to pay the utility bills come from one’s own back pocket, the water bill goes down and the thermostat is dialed back.


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  • Before 1980 comment is appropriate for Condo's in S Jersey barrier islands. We have 50 units w/pool and 4 meters. Sea isle City bills all 50 units at $1220 each yearly. If they billed the meters ony only they would lose a pocket full of $'. No rational to conserve as even w all units occupied in summer w pool minimums are not being meet. And in off seasons a GOLD MINE in $'s to city. If we were billed actually only by the 4 meters as an Association we could finance and pay for a full plumbing conservation enhancement [toliets/faucets/shower heads], save a valued resource and save the owners a pile of $'s.