Submetering for Savings Conservation Kicks In When Residents Are Paying the Piper

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 voice for conservation needs to be heard. One way to do that, 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.

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

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