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Think Your Building Can’t Be Submetered for Water? Think Again.

Apartment Water Submetering: What Is It and How to Implement It


Apartment water submetering refers to measuring individual water use in each tenant's unit. It is a fair way for building owners and tenants to ensure everyone pays only for the water they actually use.


In this article, we'll talk about the many benefits of having an apartment water submetering system for tenants and apartment owners, as well as how to implement it into a property.


Understanding Water Submetering


Water submetering is usually available when the building’s water infrastructure enables the installation of individual water meters for each apartment unit to track each tenant's water usage data accurately. 


However, many apartment buildings have plumbing that is not compatible with submeters for the simple reason that each apartment does not have its own water main. As a result, there is no accessible point anywhere in the building where each apartment’s water usage could be separately measured.


Until now, owners of buildings that lack individual apartment unit water mains were unable to submeter their buildings. But now there are solutions available to submeter any building regardless of the plumbing.


Submetering allows for billing based on actual consumption, which is fairer than the alternative – dividing the building’s total water bill proportionally among all tenants (sometimes called ratio utility billing or RUBS).  


RUBS uses a one-size-fits-all approach and can be unfair to tenants, and for that reason RUBS is illegal in many jurisdictions. By contrast, submetering recognizes and rewards individual efforts to reduce water bills and consumption. Many owners of buildings that lack individual apartment unit mains believe that RUBS is the only alternative. That is no longer the case.


Benefits of Water Submetering for Tenants


Fair Billing


Submetering guarantees that tenants are billed solely based on their water usage. This fairness in billing not only promotes a sense of justice but also motivates tenants to stay longer, benefiting property owners with reduced turnover rates.


Water Conservation


Submetering encourages tenants to adopt water-saving practices by making them accountable for their individual water consumption. This collective effort can significantly lower the overall water demand on the property. 


Cost Savings


Submetering helps tenants actively manage their water use, leading to potential savings on their monthly bills. This direct control over costs can increase tenant satisfaction and loyalty.


Empowerment and Control


Submetering empowers tenants by giving them control over their water consumption and bills. This empowerment can lead to more conscientious resource use while also enhancing tenant satisfaction.


Immediate Feedback on Usage


Modern submetering systems provide tenants with immediate feedback on their water usage, enabling them to identify and rectify excessive use quickly.


Benefits of Water Submetering for Property Owners and Managers


Apartment Building or Property Value 


Installing submetering systems can enhance a property's appeal to potential buyers and renters who value fairness and sustainability, potentially increasing its market value. By reducing or eliminating water costs for the owner, the property’s NOI increases, providing more financing flexibility and a potentially higher resale value. 


Sustainability Goals


Submetering supports environmental sustainability by encouraging water conservation among tenants. For property owners, this aligns with growing demands for eco-friendly living spaces.


Reduced Operational Costs


By incentivizing tenants to conserve water, submetering can significantly reduce the water utility costs for common areas and the overall operational expenses of maintaining the property. ​


Implementation of Water Submetering in Apartment an Apartment Complex


Technical Considerations


Equipment and Technology


  • Assess your building needs, your water infrastructure, and the challenges you face. Even if you think your property isn't suitable for submetering, there are solutions available on the market just for you.

  • Assessing different vendors to find reliable and efficient submetering equipment.


Installation Requirements


  • Understanding the technical requirements for installing submeters in an existing plumbing system. Most importantly, you need to determine whether individual apartments have their own water mains.

  • Recognizing the need for professional services, such as plumbers or technicians, specializing in submetering installations. However, there are solutions that can be quicly and easily installed by your maintenance crews.


Cost and Investment


Initial Investment


  • Outlining the financial outlay for purchasing and installing submetering systems.

  • Make sure you know your ROI before you make a decision.


Long-term Financial Implications


  • Calculating the savings and potential increase in property value over time.

  • Consider the latest technology from the beginning, and you'll benefit for years and won't need to replace it very often. 

  • Identifying reductions in water waste and utility costs as a result of efficient usage.


Legal and Regulatory Aspects


Compliance with Local Regulations


  • Conduct thorough research to understand local legal requirements for submetering.

  • Navigating the process of obtaining necessary permits and approvals for the installation.


Infrastructure Compatibility


Evaluating Plumbing Systems


  • Conducting a detailed analysis of the existing plumbing to ensure compatibility with submetering devices.

  • Identifying any necessary upgrades or modifications to the existing plumbing system to accommodate submeters.


Project Management and Installation


Planning and Coordination


  • Developing a timeline for the project that minimizes disruption to tenants.

  • Installers: Some solutions require higher-cost professionals, while others can be installed by anyone, including your existing maintenance team. 


Communication with Tenants


  • Hosting sessions to inform tenants about the benefits and process of submetering.

  • Provide regular updates to tenants throughout the installation process to keep them informed and engaged.


How DrizzleX Can Help You


DrizzleX can be used to submeter any property, even if there are no water mains to each apartment unit. If your goal is to be able to bill tenants for their actual water usage, DrizzleX may be the right solution for you.


Even if you are not planning to bill your tenants for their water usage, DrizzleX can help you reduce your water costs. The system detects hidden leaks, such as running toilets and leaky faucets, and stops millions of gallons of waste each year. It also alerts you to tenants' excessive water overuse. Typically, buildings that use DrizzleX reduce their water bills by 25-45% or more.


And you can expect a pretty quick return on investment (ROI). Buildings with DrizzleX save enough water to cover the entire cost of DrizzleX within about 9 months on average.


Another important thing is its easy installation. It can be done by any of your maintenance staff. 




Usage Reports


One of DrizzleX's solutions is the "Tenant's Overuse" report. Since many people aren't really aware of their excessive water usage, an accurate report can be very helpful in preventing unnecessary expenses. Using the reports, you can communicate with your tenants about their water consumption habits, and back it up with precise data too.


Leak Detection


Leaks can be sneaky because they aren't always visible. With property inspection, you can see the obvious ones. But, silent leaks will only show up on your utility bills. DrizzleX gives you water control because you can monitor the water flow in your building.

The system will notify you about where and how much water is being lost.


E-mail Notifications


Once DrizzleX spots the leak, it will notify you or your maintenance crew via email. The message you receive will include all the details about the exact apartment and fixture that is the culprit, how many gallons were used, how much it will cost you if the problem isn't fixed, and even possible causes for the water waste and how to fix it.


Billing


DrizzleX also allows you to bill your tenants. Tenants conserve water when they are the ones paying for it. You can easily create water bills based on accurate water consumption and bill them fairly.



FAQs About Apartment Water Submetering


What is water submetering in apartments?

Apartment water submetering is when each apartment has its own water sub meter to track how much water it  is used, so tenants only pay for their actual water usage.


How does water submetering compare to a ratio utility billing system (RUBS)?

Water submetering bills tenants based on their exact water use, while a ratio utility billing system (RUBS) divides the total water cost among tenants based on factors like apartment size and number of tenants, not actual use.


Can submetering increase a property owner's net operating income?

Yes, submetering can increase a property owner's net operating income (NOI) by reducing water waste and ensuring tenants pay for their actual water usage. This leads to lower overall water costs and potentially higher property income.



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