The Case for Submetering: Saving Energy, Time and Money

Submetering breaks down energy consumption by space, equipment type, or source (you probably already knew that.) It’s a simple concept that’s becoming standard and even required in some cities for commercial spaces.  What’s driving this movement? Transparency.  Transparency that enables M&V, better tenant utility cost capture, and energy conservation.  Submetering is more approachable than ever and is becoming critical to building operators in developing stronger energy plans, streamlining operations & simplifying billing processes while providing big financial returns across your portfolio.

Submetering in Action

Plug and process load accounts for more than 30% of a commercial building’s energy consumption. Reducing plug loads requires influencing tenant behavior – not an easy task, but not an impossible one either.  The Tower Companies, for instance, is taking on the plug load challenge and showing great results. Together with the Institute of Market Transformation they conducted a study to test the impact equipment vs. education on energy consumption.  How?  Submetering, of course.

During study, submeters measured the plug load consumption of a control space and a two test spaces: one with smart surge protectors installed, and another where tenants were educated on energy conservation.  What did they find?  Smart plugs that power down on nights and weekends were more successful in plug load reduction than education alone- reducing plug load consumption by 9%.

Shared Infrastructure Billing

Submetering individual utility consumption delivers transparency into and tenant spaces and equipment.  But, what about shared equipment, like HVAC?   Typically a property manager hire engineering consultants to conduct a study and a shared-load estimation.  But, commissioning a load study is slow, time consuming and must be repeated when occupancy or equipment shifts.  More important, when all you have to go on is leased space, electrical & mechanical plans, load estimations, and total consumption – splitting the HVAC bills becomes an inexact (and contentious) process.   

The better way?  Use BTU submeters.  

So you can get this question right next time on Jeopardy! BTU is short for British Thermal Unit.  One BTU is equal to the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit.

BTU meters measure the amount of energy – or load -used for heating or cooling each tenant space.  Meaning you can say goodbye to studies and contested energy bills while improving your cost capture faster, more accurately and easier than ever.

Show me the Money! Financial Incentives of Submetering

Energy visibility and accountability is a powerful motivator for reduction. A Wegowise study of more than 3,000 multi-family homes shows that owner-paid utility bills are 20% higher than tenant-paid utility. Why?  Tenants are simply more conscious of thermostat settings, lighting, and water consumption when they see the impact of their use.

That means that submetering has a direct link to reducing tenant energy use through accountability.  This incentive combined with a streamlined tenant bill back process helps you increase revenue, reduce labor expenses and improve NOI.  That matters because better revenue and NOI both directly improve asset value.  As an added bonus, Tenants also appreciate the transparency of submetering, improving tenant appeal and retention. Sound good to you?

Want to learn more? Download our Submetering guide:

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