What is Submetering?

Electrical submetering involves the installation of power meters (also called power monitors, electrical meters, or energy monitors) that can measure energy usage beyond the primary utility meter. Submetering offers the ability to monitor energy usage for individual tenants, departments, pieces of equipment or other loads to account for their actual energy usage.

In non-submetered residential and commercial buildings, tenants are typically billed on square footage of rented space. The landlord or property manager receives an electrical bill for the entire facility and then bills each tenant based on the amount of space they rent or by an allocation by unit type. As a result tenants are not billed based on consumption behavior, but rather they are billed based on the total consumption of the rest of the tenants. This often leads to higher energy bills since tenants are not responsible for their usage.

By submetering tenants, each tenant is billed only for the energy consumed within their space. Revenue-grade power meters are accurate enough to be used for billing purposes and can be installed at each tenant location. By holding tenants responsible for their personal consumption, they will be more likely to reduce their electricity usage habits and lower the buildings overall electricity consumption.

Case Study

Why should you consider submetering?

There are a number of benefits to submetering, which include:

  • Post-submetering electricity reduction can range from 3% up to 25%, depending on the property and behavioral changes of the residents.
  • Equity in allocation of electricity costs by resident
  • Accurate and effortless tenant billing
  • Provides tenants access to energy consumption information
  • Identification of unnecessary equipment running at night, off shift, or during the weekend
  • Better management of electricity usage
  • Ability to record actual energy usage (no estimates)
  • Detection of utility bill errors by comparing submeter usage with the actual utility bill

With energy data for their space, tenants can see how their behavioral changes affect electricity bills. Efforts tenants make to reduce consumption will be visible in the energy data, motivating them to make simple adjustments to things like plug load and cooling during off hours.

Ok, I’m sold! What do I do next?

Hawai'i Energy offers an attractive incentive of $150 per unit (up to 50 percent of the total project cost) for submeters used for billing. The cost of submetering will vary based upon the unique conditions at your property, but the cost typically ranges from $350 to $550 per unit. Some companies provide monthly billing services at a fee. Here are the steps to installing submetering at your facility.

  1. Identify a contractor or contractors that you would like to receive a bid from. You can find Hawai‘i Energy Clean Energy Allies that perform submetering at www.hawaiienergy.com/find-contractor.
  2. Follow the recommended best practices for submetering found on our incentive application found here. Incentive Application
  3. Obtain bids to determine the overall cost of the project (including monthly fees or maintenance). Ensure the contractors preparing bids follow the requirements for submetering incentives from Hawai‘i Energy, also on the incentive application. Select your contractor.
  4. Submit application and necessary information to Hawai‘i Energy prior to the start of the project.
  5. After approval from Hawai‘i Energy, you can begin your project.