How to Read a Water Bill (And Why You Should) May 14, 2015 | Samantha Dubrow

How closely do you pay attention to your monthly water bill? Have you noticed that you actually receive two separate charges on the bill – one for consumption, and one for sewage?

These two lines of the bill are critical to understand so you can:

  • Ensure your bills are accurate
  • Control how much water you are using and when you are using it
  • Catch leaks and other issues before they become bigger problems

 

How Your Water Bill Works
 
Line 1: Your Consumption Charge

The consumption charge is for the amount of water that goes into your building. This is calculated by the main water meter in the building which is provided by the utility company.

 

Line 2: Your Sewage Charge

After water reaches your building, the utility company charges for the process of sending the water back to the drain so it can be treated and reused. The meter that calculates the sewage consumption is also owned by the utility company.
 
Not all of the water consumed goes back into the sewage system. First, any water used for irrigation does not go back, and therefore there is not a sewage charge for it. Additionally, some of the water sent to the cooling tower at the penthouse of the building evaporates. Any evaporated water does not result in an additional sewage charge.
 
Here’s an example:

Main Meter (1000 gallons) – Irrigation (200 gal) – Penthouse/Cooling Tower (100 gal)
= 700 gallons charged

 

Like what you’re reading?

Sign up to keep track of CRE innovations

 

In some situations, Aquicore has seen irrigation added to the water bill, instead of subtracted from the bill. That means the building would pay for all of the water consumption twice, plus irrigation, instead of just water and sewage, which would be correctly calculated as water minus irrigation.

Case Study: Cost Recovery After Incorrect Water Billing

 

Get Your Bill Under Control with Water Submetering Systems
 
1. Submetering Will Help You Track Your Consumption

Unlike electricity, there is not much you can do about the amount of water consumed. Generally, limits cannot be put on how often people go to the bathroom or how long they shower. However, tracking water consumption will provide real-time insights about consumption and alert you when irregular patterns occur. Unusual water consumption may point to preventable issues like flooding or equipment failure.

2. Use Water Metering as Insurance for Equipment

By monitoring the cooling tower, potential equipment issues such as a valve getting stuck or the float that indicates when there is enough water in the basin malfunctioning, can be avoided. Either of these problems can cause massive flooding to the roof and into the top floor of the building. Water submetering and real-time alerts get to the source of the problem before it causes more serious damage.

Bonus: Tenant Submetering for Water

If a commercial building has a restaurant on the main floor, the restaurant probably uses a lot more water than the office tenants. Using a water submeter to separately bill the restaurant for their water use might be an ideal choice. This solution will be attractive to the office tenants so they are not responsible for paying for the restaurant’s water.

 

 

About The Author

When Samantha isn’t writing for the blog or managing our HR like a champ, she studies Organizational Psychology at George Washington University.