Re: [CSR] Shared Internet [ was Revisiting single metering
From: Michael Arnott (
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 2016 09:26:11 -0800 (PST)
A big difference between Cornerstone and Cambridge Cohousing, that might
account for Cambridge going with bulk/one meter electricity purchase, is
how they cool units in the summer. Cambridge Cohousing uses a centralized
ground-source heat pump HVAC system. I don't believe there's a way to
charge units that cool to 65 degrees in the summer more than those that
cool to 72 degrees or that it would be very different even if they could.
Here at Cornerstone we all have individual AC condensers and those who like
really cool homes in the summer pay more than those that don't.  I believe
individual ACs is why we went with individual electrical metering.


On Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 8:04 AM, R Philip Dowds via Residents <
residents [at]> wrote:

> Our cohousing community of 32 units buys electricity through separate
> meters:  32 for the individual units, plus 2 common meters.  We just
> installed as many photovoltaic panels as we could.  With all the credits,
> incentives and rate substitutions we could muster, we are seeing a payback
> of about ten years (a length of time which would be unacceptable to most
> for-profit developers).
> Not far from us, a cohousing community of 40 units is hiring the same
> vendor / installer to do a very comparable installation of PV panels.  In
> original construction, however, they chose to purchase electricity in bulk,
> and the whole property is on one electric meter.  In their case, a
> differing algorithm for credits and rate structures is helping to produce a
> much more attractive payback of around four years.
> Points:  Individual metering is not a slam dunk no-brainer.  And sharing —
> guest rooms, electricity, cars, whatever — remains a very good way for
> cohos to reduce the costs of both property and life.
> Thanks,
> Philip Dowds
> Cornerstone Village Cohousing
> Cambridge, MA
> > On Jan 11, 2016, at 10:43 AM, Chris Poch <chris [at]> wrote:
> >
> >
> > I think what makes sense in terms of utility metering depends largely on
> if
> > you pay by use or pay for service. For example, electricity service is
> pay
> > by use - if I use a lot of power, I pay a lot and if I barely use power,
> I
> > pay a little. Contrast that to internet service, which today is generally
> > pay for service - I pay for a certain speed of connection and pay the
> same
> > price whether all I do is email or if I stream movies continuously.
> >
> > I prefer things billed on consumption to be individually metered because
> it
> > encourages better responsibility. People are more likely to be careful
> with
> > their use when they see a consequence for not being careful. My sister
> > lived in a high rise where the tenants paid the utilities based on a
> > formula of unit size and number of occupants. There was no incentive to
> > conserve because with hundreds of units in the building, there was no
> > measurable difference in what she paid based on her lifestyle choices -
> it
> > encouraged unneeded consumption. I've had friends who rented out rooms in
> > their houses for fixed prices (everything included) and some who also
> > charged for utilities. The tenants who were also paying utilities were
> more
> > responsible. The ones who didn't pay did wasteful things like set the air
> > conditioning (not heat) to 60F/15C in the winter because they were "a
> > little warm" or run a shower on the hottest setting for hours to steam a
> > wrinkled garment. I've never had problems getting tenants who were paying
> > utilities to agree to a reasonable thermostat setting or to turn off
> lights
> > they're not using. I can't imagine how some of these debates would play
> out
> > across 20+ units if bills came back higher than expected.
> >
> > The big exception I'd make is for lightly used utilities. For example, if
> > your community has geothermal HVAC (all electric) but has gas water
> heaters
> > in each unit (and nothing else using gas). During the summer, I pay on
> > average $17 for my gas bill, which in the summer is essentially just
> water
> > heating. $15 of that bill is charges for being a customer and fixed rate
> > taxes so my use is only $2. It would be much cheaper to share that
> service
> > with my neighbors, even if they used significantly more than me, so we
> > could split the overhead cost of being a customer. I would take this
> > approach for utilities where the fees were very high relative to cost of
> > use.
> >
> > At least for electricity, you can get non-utility provided submeters
> > installed. The utility would read the "big meter" and charge the
> community
> > based on it. The individual meters can be used to split the bill based on
> > actual use. I've seen this system in apartment complexes and also in
> > offices where tenants paid for electricity for certain things such as 24
> > hour air conditioning of a server room but the building provided most of
> > the electricity to tenants. Just be careful that in some areas, getting
> > electric service this way will make you a commercial customer. When I
> lived
> > in southwest Virginia, commercial customers paid rates that were higher
> > than the home service rates. It's something worth exploring before
> making a
> > decision because a higher or lower rate could end up being the deciding
> > factor.
> >

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