Re: Submetering of Water Bills (and other utilities)
From: Ken Winter (
Date: Sun, 17 Jan 2021 12:45:02 -0800 (PST)
Since several folks have expressed an interest, I have started writing up
Sunward Cohousing's experience with implementing a submetering system for
our water billing and management.  I hope this will be helpful to other
communities who are contemplating taking this path.

You can read and comment on the article at

It is a work-in-progress:  Some sections haven't even been drafted yet, and *I
very much need feedback that would make it more useful:  What questions do
you have that it doesn't address?  What of what's there is unclear?  Or
wrong?  Or useless? * The best way to give feedback is to enter your
questions, suggestions, requests, etc as comments into that doc.  (You can
insert comments into any Google doc by planting your cursor at the point
where you want to insert the comment, then click "Insert > Comment", then
type your comment into the box that pops up, then click "comment" to save
it.)  From time to time I will go through the comments and incorporate the
feedback into the body of the article.

I'm putting it out in this half-baked state because I'll be away and
incommunicado for the next week, and I wanted those for whom this info is
time-urgent to have what I've got asap.

Thanks in advance for your input!

~ Happy crowdsourcing
~ Ken

On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 3:58 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
>> _________________________________________________________________
>> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.