Submetering Your Building's Electricity Paying for What You Use

 Some multifamily buildings have direct metering—the utility owns each apartment’s meter, and each resident pays directly to the utility based on an individual  utility rate. Others don’t have electric metering of individual units—the entire building is charged as a whole. This is known as master metering.  

 Most master-metered buildings were built in the 1950s and ‘60s, when electrical costs were low. The building management charges the  individual units either based on the apartment’s size or the number of shares the unit owners have in the co-op.  

 But let’s say there are two one-bedroom apartments next to each other, one owned by an  elderly woman who rarely even turns on her TV set, the other by a young couple  with two computers, two window air conditioners, a heavily-used TV, a DVD, a  cell-phone charger and more. Is it fair that both would be charged the same  amount for electric usage?  

 And from management’s point of view, master metering can lead to problems when electric costs go up,  or when enough of the unit owners or shareholders start to buy super-powerful  air conditioners or heaters.  

 In response to all these problems, more and more buildings with master metering  are beginning to switch their electricity usage to submetering, which allows  management to bill each unit individually while getting one bill of its own.  

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10 Comments

  • i want to request for the answer about how does a sub meter counts its units please
  • Hi Steven, There is some good information about how the submeters work to measure here: www.ekmmetering.com/information/the-complete-guide.html For electricity they have donuts that go around the wire to measure the current and then voltage pickups from each of the hot wires
  • I installed submeters in my 64 unit complex 15 years ago. They paid for themselves in one year because consumption dripped by a third. My immediate problem is that my submetering service no longer wants to offer disconnect service. I am therefore looking for software so I can read meters and bill tenants myself.
  • My building is proposing submetering but is not going to reduce maintenance. How does this save me money? Seems to be a big increase in my monthly expenses.
  • I would like to have a separate meter on my garage which has an overhead apartment on it. Do you know where to find this ? I just don't want that unit's electric on MY house bill as it is now.
  • How to know My submeter amount on online ? Pls Inform it ?
  • @an unknown user: It will reduce your monthly expense, because each individual unit owner will now have an incentive to conserve. When everyone pools their energy costs together, a lot of people waste energy, because they're not paying the full cost of their extra consumption. Economists call this the Tragedy of the Commons. Also, any energy savings investments you make will go 100% to you.
  • Can anyone add or transfer unit from mother/main meter to my sub meter?if so then how?
  • @John Neill: We installed submeters in our 70 unit co-op. We developed our own simple billing software to bill ourselves.
  • Does submeter work with one AC system? Each unit has to have its own AC system and thermostat, right? The cost of an AC system for each unit ($5k) is a problem for me right now. Do you know any other ways around it?