11.02.2020 - Article

Sub-metering makes utility bill mistakes a thing of the past

When it comes to calculating your utility bills, are your facilities team still taking manual readings? It’s time to explore the benefits of today’s sub-metering technology.

Many commercial buildings and apartment blocks with communal heating systems have installed individual meters for each billpayer, but still require the data to be manually inputted to calculate utility bills. As well as providing plenty of opportunities for mistakes, this method is costly and time-consuming.

Eliminate waste and bad data by automating your processes with the latest sub-metering technology.

First steps to sub-metering

Older buildings often use outdated systems and contain a maze of old wiring and panelling. An extensive survey of the building will identify both potential problems and the feasibility of installing sub-metering technology.

Next, you need to decide what utilities to meter. The type of building and its operations will determine the metering strategy. Do you need meters in every office/apartment or on every floor? Is the building in use 24 hours a day, or is it closed at evenings and weekends?

For example, communal systems such as central heating plants are the obvious place to start. Below are two common methods of sub-metering for heat…

1) Heat energy meter

This device has a flow meter of heating fluid, two temperature sensors and a calculator which converts the consumption into kilowatt-hours (kWh). Meters need to be installed in every apartment, while the individual bills are calculated by combining the cost of heating the apartment and the communal areas.

While measuring consumption is straightforward, this system requires two-pipe heating systems and only measures the overall heat consumption of a dwelling. Installation can also be expensive.

2) Heat cost allocator

These small electronic meters are fitted onto radiators and detect the heat of each radiator. Utility bills are calculated by dividing the total cost for heating the building proportionally to the data from the allocators. Data collection can be done remotely, without the need for site visits.

Common sub-metering problems

Buildings using outdated sub-metering systems calculate utility bills by assigning costs based on the size of the space they occupy. However, a small data business packed with computer servers will obviously use much more electricity than a spacious office.

An accurate sub-metering system can collect accurate data remotely meaning tenants only pay for the energy they use.

Another common issue is the use of cheap metering equipment which does not meet industry software standards, meaning third-party bill providers cannot access the data. This then requires someone to manually read the ‘smart’ meters, leading to the potential for mistakes when data is collected and utility bills calculated.

All sub-metering systems should be web-enabled and capable of being remotely operated so data can be collected and potential problems highlighted by alerts.

Can sub-metering lower utility bills?

Knowing how much energy is being used can greatly improve a building’s energy efficiency. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) metered apartments use 20% less electricity than unmetered ones.

What next?

Here at ista, we’re experts in ensuring heating costs are distributed fairly with everyone only paying for what they consume. Whether it is at the apartment heat meter or our innovative heat cost allocator (radiator) meter, we calculate each tenant’s bills and ensure regulatory compliance.

Our systems deliver flexibility to match your organisation and allow your tenants to receive their utility bills in a number of convenient forms. We give you confidence and transparency in the full settlement of your community or district heating across your buildings and whole estate. For more information on how we can work with you with a tailored solution please email info@ista-uk.com or alternatively contact us here.


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