Utility Billing Frequently Asked Questions

What is submetering?

Submeters are installed between the main electricalwater, or gas line, and the individual residential units. They help owners and property managers recover the high cost of utilities by charging residents for the utilities they actually use. Submetering is fair to residents and encourages conservation. For property owners, it may help delay the need for rent increases, and submeters add to the value of the property. Submetering immediately improves an owner or HOAs cash flow and net operating income. In general, a high-quality submeter, like the ones we prefer, will have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

How long will it take to recover my investment in submeters?

Property owners generally recognize a return on investment in under six months. We’re happy to calculate your actual ROI based on the particulars of your properties. 

What is RUBS?

RUBS stands for ratio utility billing system. When it is not possible to install submeters due to building construction, or the owner does not want to make a capital investment, ratio utility billing systems (RUBS) are a method of accurately and fairly charging residents for utility usage. RUBS can be calculated using a number of formulas including square footage, number of residents, number of water fixtures, etc. Like submetering, RUBS will improve cash flow and net operating income for the owner and will also encourage residents to conserve. A RUBS program can be put in place for many types of services that a multifamily residential property would offer for its residents. RUBS is practical due to the lack of up-front costs, and in most cases, the small service charge for us to handle the invoicing and collections is passed on to the residents.

Will RUBS impact occupancy?

Communication is key when rolling out any change that impacts your residents. We will help you inform your residents in a way that will explain how the fees are calculated. Once they understand the cost is shared fairly, and that their bill comes from a new supplier, there is generally little concern. We offer many popular payment forms, including automatic payments to make the process easier for your residents. Our customer support team has a 99% customer satisfaction rating. We work hard to communicate clearly and effectively with your residents.

Is RUBS legal?

In most jurisdictions, yes. We are regulatory experts and will be happy to tell you the exact rules for your property.

Do residents really care about conservation?

It’s much easier to care about the earth’s resources when we pay for them. Flat-rate billed utilities are intangible to residents so they may use more than they would if they have to pay directly for them, but if someone knows their bill reflects real usage, they may be inclined to use less energy.

What is vacant cost recovery? (VCR)

Sometimes known as vacant unit cost recovery (VUCR), it is the capture of utility costs paid by the owner when a resident moves into a rental unit and doesn’t transfer the service to their name. Properties without a VCR program will likely discover a resident has failed to transfer service when they receive an abnormally large bill.

Who pays our master utility bills?

Utilipay increases asset value through ancillary income while eliminating late fees and disconnects. We will process, pay, and post utility charges using GL codes. Our detailed financial and energy reporting is the best in the industry. We provide complete energy software and back-office integration, including support and training for your staff.

Utilipay makes it easy to identify residents using property electricity for free. Managers can’t catch VCR consistently, but our system identifies violators automatically. Charges and penalties are uploaded to your property management software and collected onsite.

What is Energy Star and who runs the program?

Energy Star is a voluntary federal program for energy efficiency, managed by The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. Since 1992 when the program has launched, it has helped saved $430 billion in energy expenses while also reducing emissions. While completely voluntary, there has been widespread adoption of the plan by product manufacturers, home builders, and commercial and industrial businesses. More than 40% of the Fortune 500 participate in the program. Residential products carry the energy star badge as well as a score that allows consumers to understand the amount of energy consumption of the products they choose. Products with a score of 75 or better are eligible to be certified Energy Star products. Popular Energy Star products in the residential market include light fixtures, HVAC equipment, kitchen appliances, water faucets and toilets, computers, and home electronics.

Can I bill my residents for utilities?

In most cases yes, although regulations vary by state, county, and city. As regulatory experts, we’re happy to tell you exactly what is possible for your property. Just complete this form and we’ll be happy to advise.

Why do my residents use so much water, electricity, and/or gas?

Simply, if they don’t see the bill then conservation isn’t a priority. If you bill flat rate, your resident has little incentive to monitor or even think about their usage. We hear many stories from our clients, including residents that sleep better if the water is running all night.

How much will it cost to use RUBS?

In most cases, it will not cost the property owner anything to implement a RUBS program. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy more net operating income and your residents will be more motivated to conserve energy.

Where can I buy submeters?

Our experts can walk you through the pros and cons of models we recommend for high reliability and long-life. We can also coordinate the installation and maintenance of the meters for as long as you work with us.

How can I reduce my water / electric / gas bill?

Our favorite method is to install submeters at your properties so residents pay for what they use. When improving properties, look for Energy Star options for systems and appliances.

How much will it cost to submeter my property?

We’re happy to run the numbers for you. Just ask for a quote!

What is utility benchmarking?

Utility benchmarking is the comparison of a building’s utility consumption to the usage of similar properties based on several variables. Utility benchmarking is a useful starting point for property owners to target energy and water saving opportunities that can assist with an overall asset management strategy. It will also be required for certain sized properties in California, beginning June 1, 2019.

Knowing where your utility consumption ranks compared to similar properties is required for Green Loans. Benchmarking setup and ongoing compliance is an add-on service for our current Utilipay or Utility Billing clients.

Do you install Leviton Load Center submeters?

We sure do. We expect them to be available in April 2019. Contact us now for a free quote