Re: Electricity metering [was: Dear Cohousing Community
From: Katherine Lavine (
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2021 13:06:40 -0800 (PST)

Katherine Lavine mobile messaging

> On Jan 11, 2021, at 12:58 PM, Ken Winter <ken [at]> wrote:
> A couple years ago, Sunward Cohousing installed a submetering system for
> our *water* bills.  We're very happy with it:  It has solved equity
> problems (our households, no matter how big or thirsty, *used *to pay
> equally for the collective water usage), our consumption is down by
> ~20%, and the web-based meter system issues automatic alerts of potential
> leaks and higher-than-expected consumption.
> I've been meaning to write an article on this for or some
> such medium, but I don't know how much interest there is from other coho
> communities.  Maybe I'll use this occasion to test the waters.  Is anybody
> reading this interested in knowing more about the whys, whats, and hows of
> submetering?
> ~ Ken Winter
> ~ Sunward Cohousing
> On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 3:03 PM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
>>> Chris Roth - Communities Editor <editor [at]>
>>> At Lost Valley, each individual electric meter has … a
>>> monthly charge (at least $10 apiece monthly, charged for each of the
>>> less-than-five-minute visits/readings by the power company person) has
>>> at times exceeded the actual additional electricity charge on some of
>>> those meters.— And even though we've talked
>>> about the desirability of reducing the number of meters to save costs,
>>> we've also talked about increasing it, as some people likely consume
>>> five or ten times as much electricity in their individual units (by
>>> keeping the heat cranked up, etc.) as others do
>> This is called sub-metering and is possible. I don’t know the costs but
>> with a $10 charge for even reading meters, it sounds like it might be worth
>> it. The complex then has one meter and there are sub-meters inside each
>> unit (or some other convenient spot). The meters can be read from outside
>> the unit using wifi or bluetooth or something.
>> If the minimum account charge is $30-40, many people will just be paying
>> for having an account, not for each kwh unless they go over the minimum.
>> And they may  not.
>> One intentional community (don’t remember which) put individual readers in
>> the front hall of units where residents could see them. They had large
>> faces like clocks and that dramatically reduced usage.
>> People worry about one or more households being wasteful users or
>> whatever, but when I think about each of our households, I don’t think any
>> of them would be wasteful. Some have more people or are larger or are home
>> more, so there would be a variation but you could charge per adult (regular
>> residents, not occasional guests).
>> One of our residents had an electric bill of $8 a month when others were
>> $80 a month. She worked long hours away from home, had a 615 SF south
>> facing unit, didn’t use her dishwasher or her dryer, and controlled her
>> thermostat.
>> (Our single meter water bill has greatly increased with all the people
>> working from home. The treasurer was asking about a leak somewhere until we
>> realized what caused it.)
>> Sharon
>> ----
>> Sharon Villines
>> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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