Submetering for Savings Conservation Kicks In When Residents Are Paying the Piper

Funny thing about human nature—it’s not impulsively "natural" at all.

Despite knowing that 1.1 billion people lack clean drinking water and thousands of children die from the diseases in that dirty water, people living in better circumstances tend to ignore their own ability to decrease the amount of water waste through sensible, environmental practices. Like fixing the leaking toilet. Turning the water off. Upgrading appliances. Taking shorter showers. Defrosting food in the refrigerator instead of under running water. Just in general using less water.

The same holds true for gas and electric use. In condominium residences, where multiple units may share one “portal” with a single meter — and, therefore, simply split the utility cost — residents are less cognizant of waste.

Now, with half the country sweltering for most of 2014 and drought affecting everything from water supplies to the prices of vegetables and fruit, the voice for conservation needs to be heard. One way to do that, condominium managers know, is to install submetering (real-time) systems for water, gas and electric utilities. Residents with big families, paying the same rate as singles for their water use under a single-metering system, may protest. But they'll also start to use less water. Statistics show at least a 20 percent reduction in usage after the installation of submetering systems.

Turns out, when the bucks used to pay the utility bills come from one’s own back pocket, the water bill goes down and the thermostat is dialed back.

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