Submetering in New York

AdobeStock_108015477If you live in your own home, you expect to only pay for how much electricity you use. However, apartments aren’t so simple and require either one master meter or a bunch of submeters. Recently, New York has made some changes to submetering that will negatively impact boards. 

What Is Submetering?

Submetering is commonly used in apartments as a fairer way to charge tenants for electricity. Without submetering, there would simply be one master meter that measures all the electricity used within the apartment building. That number is divided by the number of apartments, so everyone pays the same amount whether they use little or a lot of electricity. With submetering, each apartment is metered independently, so they pay for what they use. It’s fairer because if someone doesn’t use much electricity, they don’t have to pay extra just because their neighbors do.

Why Does It Appeal to Boards?

It’s appealing to associations because of the fairness. If the board did not use submetering, they could get a lot of complaints from tenants who were paying high electricity prices for using very little. It’s a great selling point because nobody wants to pay more than their fair share. Of course, tenants who waste electricity are not fans of submetering. Without submetering, they get other tenants to pay for some of their electricity. With submetering, they have to pay for every bit of juice they use.

What Are the New Regulations?

Unfortunately for boards that prefer submetering, it may not be financially possible any more. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is no longer offering reimbursements on submeters. Each submeter costs about $500, and previously New York would reimburse up to half of that. On top of that, the Public Service Commission now requires any building with submeters to have a “kill switch” for each apartment. Basically, if the tenant doesn’t pay, their power is turned off. This increases the cost of installing submeters even further.

Submetering is a fair way to charge tenants of multi-unit dwellings for electricity. Thanks to the new laws in New York, however, it just isn’t financially sound anymore for boards to spend money installing them, which means a lot of people are going to get away with making others pay for their wasteful ways.

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