Sub-metering can be applied to any building. While it was typically used by property management companies with multiple tenants for billing individual consumption of utilities, its reach can be extended to multiple applications. One can think of multi-unit manufacturing buildings with a range of installed devices, equipment and assembly lines for same or different products tracking the energy (including Thermal Energy) and utility consumption of each device or line. The information obtained can provide accountants with the tools for proper cost allocation, and facilities and production managers with the information to make smart decisions on how to manage such consumption.
What Happens Without Sub-Metering
Master utility meters measure the total consumption of the property once a month, and while some electrical utilities can provide 15 minute interval data on consumption the user still does not have other utilities like water and gas in the same platform. Additionally, it is still a global measurement of the consumption, instead of individual usage by each piece of equipment, tenant or device.
For example; there may be an electric meter for each tenant but only one gas meter and only one water meter for the whole building. In this case, the gas and the water consumption is paid from a common fund in a way that tenants aren’t paying for their individual gas consumption creating an environment where one group would subsidize another. This is a common problem faced by property managers and landlords.
On an industrial example, picture a two-line production facility that make bread; each using different equipment that consumes gas, water, and electricity. The plant would receive a single bill for each of those utilities. Yet the production manager has no tools to assess which equipment is more efficient or better to run or which equipment to turn off if production requirements would decrease or the need to reduce consumption during peak demand is warranted.
Each tenant uses energy differently, the same way as two different pieces of equipment would use it, so splitting the cost by the number of units is not fair. Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS) which bases on dividing utility costs by occupant number or square footage, is also flawed. The size of a condominium apartment doesn’t reflect the amount of energy used in that space. These methods negatively impact people who are working hard to minimize and optimize their energy consumption and never represent the reality of consumption.
Changing the Approach with Sub-metering
Some of the most significant benefits of sub-metering are:
- Real-time, detailed and accurate energy values that everyone involved can access and track the data on energy consumption.
- In-depth review of energy data. This allows for consolidation of electricity, water, gas and thermal energy consumption and management in a single platform.
- Energy performance optimization. With accurate energy-consumption records, one can make better informed decisions when it comes to reducing energy usage.
- Detecting maintenance issues early on. Sub-metering allows you to compare energy usage over longer period of times. A spike in energy usage can identify an issue in equipment, and allow for timely repair.
Types of Buildings Best Suited to Sub-Metering
The most common applications of revenue-grade sub-meters include any residential, industrial, and commercial properties that require sub-metering.
- Rental Apartments
- Housing Complexes
- Shopping centres and malls
- Office buildings
- Mobile home parks
- Mixed-use real estate
Research has shown that submetered buildings consume less energy; in multi-residential buildings some case studies have shown a 30% reduction in energy usage. For manufacturers, sub-meters can help measure and allocate energy costs for any particular production process.
Sub-metering is beneficial to property managers and property management companies because it increases tenant satisfaction, improves building efficiency, and lowers the overall negative environmental impact.