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SUBMETERING: CONTROLLING EXPENSES AND PROMOTING CONSERVATION
by Mark Jarman, President, Inovonics Wireless Corp.
We all know multifamily property owners are business people driven by the bottom line, and you are unlikely to adopt new technologies in your communities without a tangible benefit to your books. The practice of submetering, or transferring variable utility costs to individual residents, is a proven, reliable and cost-effective way to increase profitability and encourage conservation at multifamily communities.
Submetering is an investment that's generally considered an easy decision because the technology typically pays for itself within five to nine months. For a 250-unit community, a water submetering system would put an average of more than $5,000 back on the books every month.
As the cost of water continues to rise, implementing a wireless submetering system to recover utility costs becomes a simple way to recoup these ongoing expenses. Future rate increases are inevitable. In fact, majority state utilities across the country are calling for rate increases due to supply shortages and to improve on antiquated infrastructures.
In addition to the financial benefits, submetering also encourages water conservation, which is a very hot topic in the United States. Submetering accurately captures each unit's monthly water consumption and residents are billed according to their usage. Residents become much more responsible for their own consumption when they know a bill is going to arrive at the end of the month. Submetering technology can even help owners conserve water by identifying leaks, which according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA) account for 15 percent of indoor water consumption. By pinpointing and fixing these leaks, owners can effectively reduce wasted water and prevent future water damage.
In recent years, most states have adopted and implemented a water conservation programs to reduce water use. Submetering at multifamily communities can contribute to the overall all reduction of water use in the United States. In the National Multiple Family Submetering and Allocation Billing Program Study, submetering was found to achieve water savings of 15.3% compared to properties at which owners did not separately bill residents for individual water usage.
Aside from the obvious return on investment and conservation benefits, there are growing trends that support a broader implementation of submetering than ever before. Wireless networks, integrated technology and the adaptability of technology all build on the value of a submetering installation.
Wireless networks are everywhere, in our homes, at our workplaces and even at our coffee shops. The proliferation of wireless is for good reason: compared to wired networks they are easier to install which equates to a smaller initial investment and less disruption to residents. The systems are also exceptionally reliable and easy to maintain effectively reducing service costs.
Although this radio frequency (RF) technology differs from Wi-Fi or cellular networks, the fundamentals of the solution and the benefits it delivers are similar. This rapidly growing class of technology, which uses wireless sensors, is creating cost-effective solutions for numerous applications in various industries including the multifamily marketplace.
Emerging Submetering Trends
The multifamily marketplace is witnessing the emergence of multiple applications on the same wireless platform. Submetering is often the first<