Typically a multi-family development has either one master meter for the entire development or a meter for each building and the development is responsible for the entire water, gas and/or electric bill. These expenses are basically divided evenly by the number of units within the development and passed on via rent, association dues, or other forms of payment. Once a development is submetered, the expenses are now divided based on the consumption of each individual unit. This is obviously the fairest way of dividing this expense. Those who use less water pay less and do not pay for others who use more.
The idea of Submetering has been around for over 20 years. It started with the electric industry. Years ago most multi-family developments had a master meter for electricity and the owners paid the bill for the entire property. This created a lot of waste since the residents of these developments were not directly responsible for their own electric bill. It was determined that when electric submeters were installed for each individual unit that the consumption of electricity drastically decreased. It has since become the standard in the electric industry to install individual electric meters for each unit within multi-family developments. This is what is now occurring in the water industry.
Unlike resident’s individual electric meters, the property will still pay their monthly water/sewer bill to the local municipality. After Delta installs your system a Read, Bill and Collect company (RBC) will read the resident’s meters, bill the resident for their usage, collect from the resident and remit payment less the billing fee along with management reports to the property on a monthly basis.
Along with a property owner’s profits, residents who are not responsible for their own usage are flushing increasingly expensive water down the drain. The installation of low-flow devices helps, but only water submeters represent the most viable solution for property owners to control these rising costs and pass them along to residents in a fair manner. Easily installed and monitored meters for each unit allow for accurate measuring and billing based on their individual consumption.
The submeters not only reduce the property owner’s overhead, but they also promote the conservation of water among residents who become directly responsible for their own usage.
Most importantly, Submetering does not adversely affect occupancy. Recent studies have indicated that the monitoring and billing for a resident’s water usage has no effect on a property’s turnover rate. However, measurable positive effects will result, resulting in lower water and sewer costs and increased profitability.
In fact, it has been found that residents use 30% less water in submetered units than non-submetered ones. Without direct financial incentive, residents are not motivated to control their water use. Submetering allows owners to correct this situation in a fair manner.
WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR SUBMETERING?
The water and sewer bills for multi-family developments are one of the largest expenses for the community. In the past, the cost for water and sewer was considerably less than what it is today. With drinkable water becoming a scarce commodity throughout the United States the cost of water has been increasing very rapidly. This is partly due to the increased regulations by the government and partly due to the rapid population growth. Almost weekly there are articles about shortages of water. Many people have experienced these shortages in the form of water restrictions. It is inevitable that conservation efforts are going to be enforced in the future. That is why water Submetering has become one of the most popular topics in the multi-family industry today.
Water Submetering has only been around for a little over 5 years because it was not much of a concern. But over the past couple of years, with the cost of water increasing across the country by as much as 25% in a year, Submetering has become one of the biggest concerns of multi-family communities.
Not all properties are being submetered today and not all properties are able to be submetered. But between 90% and 95% of all new construction of apartment communities are being submetered and over the next few years, the majority or apartment communities that can be submetered will be installing a system. In the future many states will start requiring multi-family communities to submeter or possibly offer incentive programs to do so. Delta Utility Solutions will first make arrangements with the owners to install the necessary equipment for the system (i.e. water meters, transmitters, reading equipment, etc.). Delta Utility Solutions will typically have to gain access to each unit in order to install this equipment, unless it can be installed on the outside of the building.
After the equipment has been installed and tested, the owner can select an RBC, which will be responsible for the reading of the meters, the disbursement of the bills and the collection of the payments. The RBC becomes the utility for the system just like the Phone Company, Cable Company and electric company. RBC will handle all the customers’ questions and concerns.