Quarterly vs. Monthly Tier Structure

When a multi-housing manager stopped by our booth at an Apartment Association trade show a few months ago, she asked me, “Why Read/Bill/Collect companies exist? I mean, we visually read our own water submeters and do the billing ourselves.”


Aside from the fact that doing the reads yourself is a great way to open yourself to at least the perception of conflict-of-interest, computing the correct rates (read correct as another way of saying legal) is not so simple.

You see, during our conversation, she mentioned that her property is billed quarterly and she bills residents monthly. Aha!!! I asked for a copy of her last quarterly bill and a sample resident bill that she sends out.

A couple weeks later, I received a copy of a quarterly property-wide bill and a resident bill. Guess what? The property manager wasn’t an expert on rate analysis and so she had been shortchanging the landlord for thousands of dollars per month for years.

How so? Their water and sewer tier structures are based on how many gallons of water the property consumes per quarternot per month. Since she was billing each resident on what that resident consumed per month, she was billing residents only in the first tiers. And their second water tier was 50% more than their first tier. Their second tier sewer rate was 70% more.  And ready for this? Their third tier water – which no resident had paid in years – was 300% of the first tier rate.

This is only one example of many in which what looks like a simple rate question is actually more complicated than it appears. Incorrect and illegal billing of electric, gas and water can result in massive penalties.

She signed on. A new and happy client!

No Upfront Cost Submeters

CWE is proud to announce a new program – SUBMETERS WITH NO OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSE.

It’s high time that multihousing owners get some relief from the burden of ever-increasing water and sewer costs as well as high electricity and gas bills. Get out from under the burden of high water consumption. Motivate your residents to conserve.

Fill out the blue form to the right . In the blank labeled “Other Description,” write in “no cash.”


A number of construction inspectors in various locales are requiring plenum rated water submeters to be installed in multihousing projects. To be more specific, the requirement is applied in cases where the submeters are to be installed in plenum spaces – HVAC closets within the individual apartments.

The smaller problem – there is no such thing as a plenum-rated submeter.

Why isn’t there such a thing? I’m not an engineer but here’s is how it was explained to me:

For a material to be what is typically referred to as plenum-rated,” a material is tested according to a protocol called ASTM Standard E 84-05. The “fire-test-response standard for the comparative surface burning behavior of building materials is applicable to exposed surfaces such as walls and ceilings.”

To be precise, it’s not that there is no such thing as a plenum-rated submeter; it’s that there is no recognized test by which a submeter could be tested. Existing tests are intended for building materials with large exposed surfaces such as walls and ceilings – not for 5.5” to 7.5” long submeters.

The bigger problem– the inspector is requiring “plenum-rated” submeters and you need to either convince him that it is not applicable or you need to offer an alternative. Which solution makes the most sense depends on your situation. Fill out the blue form to the right ➡  – we’ll contact you and give you a solution.

Which of Three are You?

MJ-20 Submeter


All Property Managers and owners fall into one of three categories:

  1. You’re passing off the costs of water and sewer to residents and it’s working well.* Whether you’re submetering, using RUBS or some combination thereof, you’re recovering the vast majority of costs and the system works smoothly. Your bottom line is great! Why are you reading this? 🙂
  2.  You’re trying to pass off water and sewer costs to residents but you’re not happy with how it’s working. Either the submeter reads seem wacky or the billing company’s customer service isn’t what it should be or something else isn’t quite right. Residents are complaining and you’re frustrated. There must be a better way. Fill out the blue form on the right for a better :idea:.
  3. You’re giving away free water and sewer to your residents.** Because your tenants have no vested interest in conservation of water, leaks often go unreported and water use is probably higher than it should be. Oh, and of course, the result is that water and sewer expenses are dragging down your bottom line. Fill out blue form on your right for a better :idea:.

For those of you that fall into categories 2 or 3, fill out the blue form to your right ➡ to receive free SUBMETERING vs RUBS vs FLAT FEE vs HYBRID. It addresses some of your most important questions:

  • How do you compare solutions and determine what’s best for your property and residents?
  •  What are the pros and cons of the different solutions?
  • What solutions do residents typically prefer?
  • How to find out what is even possible at your property?

Fill out the blue form to your right ➡ for free Property Manager’s Guide to Utility Cost Recovery.

·         * It’s also possible that your residents are individually metered by the utility provider. In this case, the residents directly pay the utility. If that’s your case, you’ve got nothing to worry about – why are you reading this? 🙂

·         ** If you are charging a flat fee for water and sewer, don’t kid yourself. In reality, you are giving away free water and sewer to your residents – it’s just that you’ve chosen to label part of the rent as “water and sewer charge.” You have the same problem that you would have had if you had simply included water and sewer with a higher rent – the residents have no motivation to conserve water and to quickly report leaks.