Brief History of Submetering: Part II

September 14, 2018

Utility submetering as we know it today traces its roots back to Denmark at the turn of the last century.  By mid-century, consumption-based utility billing in multifamily properties had spread throughout Western Europe. 

 

Unlike their European counterparts, U.S. multifamily property owners simply factored their utility costs into monthly rental charges. Since utility costs were relatively low in the U.S., this practice was widely used throughout the country.  As a consequence, apartment residents had no idea of the amount of utilities they consumed nor were they aware of the actual costs associated with their consumption.      

 

However, as utility costs began taking a larger share of rental income, U.S. property owners undertook efforts to break out utility costs from rent.  By doing so, residents would receive a periodic bill for their share of utility usage.  Early efforts include owner-installed and billed submeters and formula billing systems (e.g., Ratio Utility Billing Systems and flat fee billing). 

 

A search of available records indicates that Texas-based Hocutt, Inc. began reading submeters in 1957.  Another pioneer was Park Utilities.  Established in 1979, Park Utilities provided a utility billing service for California manufactured housing communities. Guardian Water & Power, Inc opened its doors on September 7, 1983.

 

Today companies like Guardian, RealPage and National Exemption Service offer meter installation, billing and utility management services nationwide.  

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