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ECM: Miscellaneous ECMs

M4. Install Checkmetering or Individual Metering

Description

In developments where the PHA pays for electricity or gas consumption, residents have little incentive to conserve energy because they are not accountable for the amount of energy they use. Establishing accountability and responsibility for energy usage can reduce consumption by 10 to 25 percent. There are two different ways to establish resident accountability: checkmetering or individual metering.

Checkmetering. Checkmeters measure the electricity or gas consumed by a dwelling unit. The checkmeters are installed in addition to the master meter. The master meter, which is owned by the utility, measures total building consumption, and the PHA is responsible for paying the bill to the utility. The checkmeters, on the other hand, are owned by the PHA. The PHA provides each household a utility allowance in the form of a maximum level of consumption that it may consume without a surcharge. When a household exceeds this level, the resident must pay a surcharge. The PHA should make sure any charges are clearly explained to the residents. 

Individual metering. Where utilities are individually metered, each household has a separate account with the utility company and pays the bill directly to that company. The meters are installed by the utility company. Individually metered utilities are sometimes called "retail service" or "tenant-paid" utilities. The PHA provides a utility allowance to the household in the form of a reduction in monthly amount for rent that the household pays to the PHA. When a household's consumption exceeds the utility allowance, the household is still responsible for paying the bill. Therefore, the household has an incentive to keep consumption within the reasonable limits of the utility allowance. The meters are installed by the utility company. Individually metered utilities are sometimes called "retail service" or "tenant-paid" utilities. The PHA provides a utility allowance to the household in the form of a reduction in monthly amount for rent that the household pays to the PHA. When a household's consumption exceeds the utility allowance, the household is still responsible for paying the bill. Therefore, the household has an incentive to keep consumption within the reasonable limits of the utility allowance.

Applicability

  • Multifamily buildings with PHA-paid electricity or gas

Considerations

  • Laws should be reviewed to determine if checkmetering or individual metering is permissible.
  • Prior to modifications to utility service arrangements, necessary changes should be made in resident leases in accordance with HUD regulations.
  • PHAs should work with residents with high consumption to help them find ways to reduce energy usage.
  • PHAs should investigate and, where possible, eliminate any sources of high consumption that may be beyond the control of the resident.
  • Residents should be informed of any changes in charges and rent structure that will result.
  • Private performance-based financing for energy conservation improvements can be difficult to obtain for developments with individual metering.
  • Utilities typically charge a higher rate for energy sold to individuals than to a larger user, such as a whole building or development.
  • Switching to individual metering may result in higher per-apartment utility costs.
  • Some utilities require a deposit to set up an account if the customer has a poor credit record, and some residents may be unable to pay such a deposit.
  • If checkmeters are installed, the PHA should consider the additional maintenance staff time needed to read the checkmeters on a regular basis.

Performance/Economics

  • Establishing accountability and responsibility for energy usage can reduce consumption by 10 to 25 percent.

Resources/Links

Energy Conservation for Housing ā€“ A Workbook, HUD, September 1998. Pages 7-157 through 7-159 address installing checkmetering or individual metering.

CAUTION STATEMENT