In the past, residents were not responsible for utility costs. The typical resident would only be responsible for paying rent and could use an unlimited amount of utilities. This has caught the attention of regulators, environmentalists and property owners and has resulted in a dramatic increase in submetering and allocation practices throughout the United States.
The movement towards individual utility billing began in the late 1970s and early 80s when the United States was faced with a critical energy crisis that led government officials to explore alternative energy conservation measures. This effort led to a variety of significant changes in our culture, including more fuel-efficient automobiles, and the individual metering of gas and electricity for multifamily housing residents.
Prior to the energy crisis, the majority of communities were served by only one gas meter and one electric meter. Thus, residents of these properties had no financial motivation to conserve. Confronted with this situation, the majority of states enacted measures that mandated individual metering of gas and electricity for newly constructed communities.
Similarly, in the last few years, the need to conserve water by holding residents responsible for water costs has moved to the forefront of discussions about conservation across the country. Property owners who bill their residents for water usage typically use one of two methods: sub-metering or allocation. A property is sub-metered when each unit contains a meter that measures water usage for that unit. The residents are then billed monthly for their water and sewer usage. This billing is often performed by a third party billing company on behalf of the property owner. Alternatively, an allocation system can be used when a sub-meter is not installed. In these situations, residents are billed for water based on a set factor, such as the square footage of their apartment home, or the number of occupants. See: California Ratio Utility Billing System: RUBS. The movement to make residents responsible for their share of utility usage has led to a dramatic increase in the number of communities that bill their residents for utilities, including water.
We have also noticed an increasing trend to reduce water utility bills by reducing or eliminating the sewer service charges associated with the water costs through sub-metering. In other words, eliminating sewer service charges for irrigation water or reducing sewer service charges so that they reflect only the amount of water returned to the sewer service system, excluding water used for pools, spas, boilers, HVAC systems, cooling towers, water features and landscaping.
However, based on our experience, sub-metering does not work well for irrigation water, especially for clients billed by L.A.D.W.P. (Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power), for the following reasons:
- DWP. customers must purchase their sub-meters from the City of Los Angeles, and the cost of these sub-meters is prohibitive, especially for 2" and larger size sub-meters.
- The paperwork and approval process is extensive, expensive, time-consuming and exhaustive.
- There is only one sub-meter allowed per DWP metered line. This means that unless all of your irrigation lines are going in the same direction off of your main or mixed use water meter, it will be necessary to pay for some rather extensive plumbing to meet DWP's sub-metering requirements.
- The DWP customer will be paying higher sewer service charges in the future for all water that is not registered by the sub-meter, sometimes resulting in higher overall DWP water bills than before the sub-meter.
- The subsequent DWP. water utility bills are supposed to deduct the sub-meter readings from the main water meter readings, and only bill sewer service charges for the difference, but, in actuality, oftentimes we have audited these water utility bills and found that the sub-meter readings are added to the main water meter readings, and the D.W.P. customer is now paying higher water and sewer service charges every month!!!
There is another way to not only eliminate sewer service charges for your water that is not entering the sewer system, but also reduce your domestic water sewer service charges! A utility audit can determine whether or not you would qualify and benefit from an elimination of sewer service charges for irrigation water and/or a reduction in sewer service charges for domestic or mixed-use water. This is part of a utility audit, and costs you nothing! Best of all, your future DWP bills are lowered forever – you will never be returned to the higher sewer service charges, or be billed for sewer service charges ever again if an exemption is granted! In addition, your future DWP bills will be billed correctly, as they do not have to be sent to a special department responsible for sub-meter or 'deduct' water meter DWP customers. (I.e. the source of the incorrect "add-on" bills) This is the fastest, no-risk method to reduce your overall water expenses without spending a penny!