Do You Sub-meter?

March 2015

Sub-metering is a system used in multi-unit properties, such as condominiums, where utility usage is measured in each suite and that usage is paid for by the tenant or owner of the suite. When sub-metering is in use, total building consumption of electricity can drop by up to 30%.

While newer condo buildings offer sub-metering, older condo buildings often prefer not to implement sub-metering due to an incomplete cost analysis. This cost analysis typically considers the cost of new measuring equipment and billing fees that are added to each bill.

What this analysis typically neglects is behavioural changes when suite owners see and pay for their direct usage. When all factors are considered, a drop in consumption in the range of 20% to 30% is often obtainable.

Despite the increasing cost of utilities of all types, those that do not pay for their direct usage tend to use utilities as if they were free. They tend to ignore their own ability to decrease their own waste through sensible practices. Sub-metering encourages more sensible practices. It encourages residents to eliminate window drafts and repair damaged windows rather than turn up the heat. They may install window shades to reduce the need for air conditioning or upgrade appliances. Sub-metering can lead to turning water faucets off sooner, repairing leaking fixtures and taking shorter showers. It encourages people to defrost food rather than running hot water or using the microwave.

Sub-metering means that larger families pay for their utilities rather than being subsidized by smaller families or vacant suites. Heavier electricity users may protest the change but also likely use fewer utilities.

Experience shows that water, gas and electric use declines when the money used to pay for utilities is not directed through the condo corporation.

Sub-metering is an equitable approach that eliminates waste, supports the environment and saves money. It means fewer production and treatment facilities and has an overall positive financial impact.

With utility prices increasing each year, there is no reason to delay sub-metering in condo buildings.