Save Money and the Planet

How Submetering Can Help Save Money and The Planet

Have you heard about the practice of submetering? Do you know what submetering is? If you answered “no” to either or both of those questions, this article will give you a brief synopsis of what submetering is, and what it is not.

First, a definition: submetering is a system of individual utility meters that are installed in each residential or commercial unit and measures the utility usage of each unit. The meter readings are relayed to a central utility submetering company that bills each tenant. It is most often used in multifamily housing units such as apartment complexes, condominiums, mobile home parks, and military base housing; it is also often used in commercial settings such as shopping malls, warehouses, medical clinics, marinas, and so forth.

Here is a common scenario: one tenant in an apartment complex conserves utilities but another does not. The former tenant ends up paying for the latter tenant’s wastefulness in terms of money (rental increases) and environmental impact. Since utilities are derived from natural resources, wasting utilities directly correlates with wasting natural resources. Not everyone cares about the environment but surely everyone cares about spending less and saving more!

If this apartment complex used submeters, the latter tenant will be solely responsible for paying for their squandering ways and the other tenants will not be financially impacted. This will hopefully make the latter tenant aware of their wasteful ways and they will choose to be more conservative with their utility usage. Their rent may not go up the following year because his landlord does not have increasing utility expenses to cover. Conclusion: submetering is a good for both tenants and landlords.

It is possible that an established residential or commercial building cannot employ submeters. This may be due to the fact that they cannot be installed into an older building or the cost to install them is too great. An alternative to submetering is something called a Ratio Utility Billing System, or RUBS. RUBS is a calculation of utility usage that it based on the size, type, and occupancy of the residential or commercial space rather than blindly estimating without giving heed to such things. RUBS also uses the actual property utility bill to ensure tenants are not charged more than the landlord in any given month. To ensure a fair RUBS landlords will have a utility submetering company provide this service which verifies the size, type, and occupancy of each unit and combining that information with pre-set industry-wide standards that comply with state and local regulations.

There is no doubt about it, submetering saves money for tenants and property owners alike. It conserves natural resources and lessens the burden on the environment. It is progressive and allows residents and employees to feel good about living and working in a “green” atmosphere. Will everyone care that submetering can help save the planet? No. But one thing that most people have in common is the desire to save money and submetering can help accomplish that.

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