Quadlogic Controls Corp Blog

Understanding the benefits of residential submetering

August 21, 2018

What is Submetering?

Submetering is the use of electrical metering devices with the ability to measure energy usage in each apartment, after the building primary service utility meter.

Submetering tenant spaces is beneficial for both property owners and tenants. Landlords (note that in coops and condos, the tenants are the owners) benefit from increased tenant engagement, reduced resource consumption, and eligibility for Energy & Atmosphere LEED credits. Tenants can use submeter data to monitor daily usage, ensure accurate billing, reach sustainability goals, and reduce their utility bills. In addition, the master meter enables shopping for less expensive and “Green” power from ESCO’s, and buying in bulk often qualifies the building for lower rates. Why pay “retail” rates with an individual (aka “direct”) meter when a master meter provides “bulk” or “wholesale” rates.

1. Seamless and Accurate Tenant Billing

In some states, in multifamily buildings, it is permitted to charge each tenant a portion of the building total energy bill equivalent to the square footage that tenant occupies. However, this standard industry practice is inherently unfair to both owners and tenants and results in unfair billing. For example, if a laundromat (an energy-intensive business) and a retail shop (not energy-intensive) occupy the same square footage in a building, they pay an equal share of the electric bill, even though one tenant consumes much more than the other; or, if two apartments of equal square footage have different size families, they would both be charged the same amount even though the usage is quite different. Other real-world examples include tenants who have more than one residence, and may be spending a week or season in another home and use little or no kWh consumption in the un-occupied apartment, but they would still be charged based on the occupied space. The problem here is that tenants are not billed based on consumption behavior, rather, they are billed based on the total consumption of the rest of the tenants - this is known as “RUBS” (Ratio Utility Billing Service) where permitted.

That is one reason why, in NY state, new construction multi-family buildings must have either direct utility meters or submeters for each apartment. The NY State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) has shown that residents of an un-metered apartment (where the rent includes the utility cost, aka “rent-inclusion”) will use 10% - 30% more electricity compared to the same apartment when a submeter is installed. The reason is obvious, since the rent does not increase when more electricity is used or wasted.

With submeters, landlords can instead charge each tenant for their exact consumption during a particular billing period, rather than making an arbitrary and time-consuming estimation.

2. Identifying Inefficiencies

As energy management becomes more important to companies that operate large buildings and facilities, the need for detailed information on how energy is used increases. Submetering of spaces and equipment can identify areas where energy is consumed. Property managers and building engineers use this data to create and implement energy reduction programs to save electricity and money.

Energy efficiency is the first step in achieving sustainability in buildings and helps to control increasing energy costs while reducing their environmental footprint. “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

Quadlogic submeters log usage (kWh) at hourly and daily intervals so usage patterns can be analyzed.

3. Going Green

Submetering enables building owners to implement an effective green strategy. Hardware and software system are introduced, specifically addressing the needs of the sustainability market by providing functionality that helps analyze residents’ energy consumption habits.

As the industry continues to evolve, the need for a powerful, accurate, and environmentally conscious solution becomes more apparent.  

If you are interested, thinking about installing a submetering system, or wish to learn more about our submetering services, feel free to call us on +1 (212) 930-9300 or, email us at info@quadlogic.com we will be happy to assist you in designing a cost-effective solution. We work with architects, builders, and consulting engineers to design the best submetering system.