Submetering Could Unlock Greater Efficiencies

Submetering is a technology that yields finely grained snapshots of energy and water usage in commercial and residential buildings. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), it also has the potential to generate significant return on investment for utilities and other stakeholders, while setting the stage for advanced conservation and energy efficiency techniques to come.

A new U.S. government interagency report [PDF] highlights the use of submeters as a cost-effective strategy for guiding efficiency improvements and capturing the advantages of the modern smart grid. While the report acknowledges that the return on investment (ROI) on submeters can vary by climate, building type, and other factors, it concludes that “numerous case studies provide evidence that the ROI can be significant.”


image via Shutterstock

What’s the advantage to using submeters? Because these monitoring devices can be deployed at successively finer levels of resolution – from individual buildings and rooms in a complex to specific building systems or water and electrical outlets – submeters can provide specific, real-time information useful in pinpointing variations in performance (such as figuring out which water and lighting fixtures are wasting energy). This aids in optimizing automated building systems, as well as in encouraging building managers and occupants to adopt energy-conserving behaviors.

“Submetering is essential to getting the best performance out of buildings – both new and old,” Roland Risser of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said in a statement. “By providing designers, building managers and occupants with more information about their energy use, submetering helps improve building efficiency, which reduces energy waste and saves money for families and businesses.” The report was produced by NIST in partnership withthe DOE’s Buildings Technology Research and Development Subcommittee.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.


  • Reply November 27, 2011

    Todd Brehe

    One of the additional benefits of implementing a utility submetering system, especially in a multifamily residential setting, is its affect on tenant behavior. Submetering combined with residential billing encourages smarter use of utilities. In fact, when a multifamily complex transitions from owner-paid (“utilities included”) to resident-paid utilities, consumption savings can reach as high as 35%. nnAs people are charged for their individual usage, say for water, they become more conscious of waste, they report leaks and other maintenance issue more quickly, and generally do everything they can to prevent unnecessary consumption.nnAmCoBi-Utility Billing Services

  • Reply November 27, 2011

    Peter Mccarthy

    We can not wait for this to hit the market this will work good with the smart Gridu00a0

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