Submetering Multi-family Water Use

Water consumption is usually master-metered in multifamily (MF) settings, with rent serving as the vehicle through which these and possibly other operational costs are transferred to the occupant, most of whom are renters[1]. The expense and administrative burden imposed by submetering has traditionally been considered too great relative to benefits to make it a worthwhile proposition. Many assert, however, that absence of submeters leads to significant water wastage since renters remain shielded from the economic consequences of their water-use decisions, and that this wastage is difficult to tolerate in an era of increasingly constrained supplies. While logical enough, this assertion represents only one side of the coin. A MF complex’s total consumption is driven by decisions taken by both renters and owners. After all, a renter may decide how long to shower, but it is the owner that decides whether or not to install a low-flow showerhead. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that plumbing fixtures remain in good working order, and that the inventory of these fixtures is steadily upgraded in a way that favors newer water-efficient technologies. Thus, while submetering would help in sending clear price signals to renters, it also would simultaneously weaken price signals received by owners. Or, in other words, it would switch incentives embedded in a master metered system.

How should we choose between these two billing options? How can we align renters’ and owners’ incentives such that together they take decisions that promote water-use efficiency? These are some of the questions that animate the discussion presented in this paper.

In some ways, the choice boils down to knowing whether the owner or the renter is more responsive to price. If price responsiveness (what economists call price elasticity) of the two actors differs considerably, then sending clear price signals to the more responsive actor ought to be preferred since that would reduce wastage the most. But if the two actors exhibit comparable levels of price responsiveness, then the choice is not so clear: In such a case, sending price signals to both actors instead of just one ought to produce better results in principle, assuming a simple enough system could be devised in practice to achieve this goal.

It is worth mentioning that several variants already exist for sending price signals to MF occupants. Complete submetering of each apartment is the most advanced method. Another, possibly cheaper, option includes submetering only of hot water consumption (or point-of use submetering when supply lines crisscross across units), which can then be used to proportionally divide a complex’s total water bill across units. Finally, each unit can be billed on the basis of formulas, instead of measured in-unit consumption. The formulas can be simple or complicated, with the latter taking into account several factors, such as the number of occupants in a unit, type of fixtures in the unit, floor area of the unit, and so on. These formula-based bill allocation systems are generically called ratio utility billing systems (RUBS). When comparing the two approaches, it is obvious that complete submetering ties behavior to its economic consequences most directly, while RUBS do so only indirectly.

Water Savings Estimates

It is difficult not to lean considerably on the recently completed national submetering study [1] (hereafter referred to as the NSS) to assess the pros and cons of submetering. The NSS is both recent and comprehensive in scope, and also includes a thorough review of the literature that became available prior to the NSS’s completion. Our goal is not to provide a detailed critique of the NSS’s methods, but rather to alert the reader to the NSS’s salient findings, compare these findings to those of previous studies reviewed and cited in the NSS, to assess the potential impact of submetering in California, and to raise questions for future analyses.

Price Elasticity

An obvious place to start our discussion is by examining water consumption’s responsiveness to price, the very foundation of submetering. Ample literature suggests that indoor residential water use is less price-elastic than outdoor use. The intuition behind this empirical finding is easy to grasp. Indoor uses permit much less behavioral discretion. Under normal conditions, most individuals flush the toilet after every use, most take reasonable showers, and these essential end-uses are unlikely to react much to price. Dishwashers and clothes washers, on the other hand, are perhaps more responsive to price. In the absence of clear price signals one can imagine a higher likelihood of these appliances being run at partial loads. In the end, however, behavior-related price responsiveness comes mostly from outside end uses, such as irrigation, car washing, and so on. Water and energy differ considerably in the level of behavioral discretion each permits. It is far easier to accidentally leave a window open, or forget to turn off a light, or forget to alter the thermostat setting before leaving home, than it is to forget, say, a running faucet.

Apart from behavioral factors, of course, price responsiveness also has a technology component. A sufficient rise in the price of water or sewer can trigger a shift toward newer water-efficient appliances and plumbing fixtures (for example, low-flow showerheads, ultra-low-flush toilets, weather-based irrigation controllers, and so on), but this additional, and potentially greater source of price responsiveness falls mostly under the discretion of the property owner.

Because MF complexes generally have fewer discretionary end-uses than single-family (SF) residential settings, it is reasonable to expect the former to exhibit a lower level of behavior-related price elasticity. For example, few MF complexes have large landscapes. And compared to SF detached homes, far fewer have dishwashers and in-unit clothes washers. According to 2003 data from the American Housing Survey, in California approximately 47 percent of apartment units had a dishwasher and 25 percent had an in-unit clothes-washer compared to 69 percent and 93 percent respectively for SF detached housing units[2]. Thus, even the indoor price-elasticity of a MF occupant can be expected to be lower than the indoor price-elasticity of a SF occupant.

So what does the literature have to say about indoor price elasticity, and about how this parameter differs when MF complex owners pay for water versus renters? One of the NSS’s key findings seems to address the issue, namely, that in MF settings owners appear to be 70 percent more responsive to price than submetered renters (NSS, pg. xxxvi-xxxvii). If not the exact estimate, we find this broad conclusion credible in spite of caveats included in the NSS about the submetered renter-elasticity estimate, which the authors state is based upon limited data.

Water Savings

Several studies have been conducted to estimate savings from submetering as well as from RUBS. The NSS compiles their results. Most of these previous studies derive savings by comparing water consumption of submetered or RUBS sites (test sites) to master metered sites (control sites). Only two studies published prior to the NSS, and now the NSS itself, offer before-versus-after comparisons.

Pre-NSS estimates

There is a striking pattern to the pre-NSS estimates. Savings estimates from the test-versus-control comparisons are invariably higher than the before-versus-after estimates, often by a factor of 3 or more (NSS, pg. 178). In real-world evaluations, a before-versus-after framework is likely to better preserve an apples-to-apples comparison. Thus, we are inclined to put more credence in these lower pre-NSS estimates. That the two methodologies can generate markedly different results, even when applied to the same data, can clearly be seen from the late 1990s study performed in Seattle (NSS, pg. 178).

NSS estimates

How do the NSS’s savings estimates compare to these previous estimates? The NSS, to its credit, does not hang its hat on any single methodology. It presents estimates using several models spanning both a test-versus-control as well as a before-versus-after methodology. Unfortunately, the sample size available for the before-versus-after methodology ended up being very small (6 sites, NSS, pg. xxii) because reliable information about when a property switched to submetering or RUBS was unavailable to the NSS team[3]. Therefore, only the NSS’s test-versus-control results are of any practical value. Based on a test-versus-control methodology, the NSS estimated submetered properties to have 15.3 percent lower consumption, and RUBS properties to have about the same consumption as “in-rent” (that is, master metered) properties. The former estimate is within the previously published band of savings estimates, but the latter is bit of a surprise because prior evaluations have found RUBS to generate statistically significant savings.

Given our earlier comment about comparing apples to apples, the following facets of the NSS should be kept in mind while evaluating its results. Submetered properties were considerably different than the “in-rent” properties on several dimensions. For example, submetered properties were considerably newer—41 percent were built after 1994 compared to 7 percent of the “in-rent” properties (NSS, pg. 57 and 76). They were also larger (NSS, pg. 73), and had a higher prevalence of clothes washers and dishwashers (NSS, pg. 80) compared to the “in-rent” properties.

Although the NSS’s statistical models attempt to account for all these differences, the relative newness of the submetered properties is of concern. The NSS (pg. 138 and 139) shows the relationship between total indoor consumption and the number of units per complex, by type of billing system, first for all properties included in the study, then only for those properties that were built after 1995[4]. While submetered properties exhibit lower consumption than “in rent” properties in both these graphs, the difference appears narrower when the comparison is only based upon post-1995 properties. This leads us to believe that if savings were to be estimated using only post-1995 submetered and master-metered properties (a tighter apples-to-apples comparison), the resulting estimates of water savings would be lower.

Income versus Price Effects

When a property switches to submetering or to RUBS, it is rare for the property owner to adjust rent downward as a way of keeping the tenant’s total rental expense unchanged (NSS, pg. xxxi). This automatically leads to the question: do measured savings reflect a long-lasting price response, or a one-time rate shock (what economists call an income effect), that is likely to disappear when the affected tenant leaves and is replaced by a new one? Given the high turnover of residents in MF complexes, one would assume that savings detectable a year or two after the switch reflects a pure price response. It is also possible that when MF complexes switch to submetering or RUBS, the owners apply this new system selectively only to new tenants, minimizing rate shock by design. Previous studies, as well as the NSS, fail to describe clearly what process their respective study sites followed while switching either to submetering or to RUBS, as well as the number of years that had elapsed between the switch and the evaluation. Therefore, it is difficult to gauge how these factors might have impinged on the reported savings estimates. Interpreting previously published savings estimates as a definitive price response would seem reasonable were grandfathering of existing tenants a commonplace phenomenon. Grandfathering might also explain why the NSS found no savings, not even an income effect, associated with RUBS. In the interest of clarifying these unknowns, we strongly recommend that future researchers compile longer time-series data covering several years before and after the switching point. We further recommend that they pay special attention to how tenants were actually eased into the new billing system, in order to permit a better differentiation between price and income effects.

Practical Feasibility

Promoting submetering or RUBS on a large scale may require public agencies (be they state legislatures, public utilities commissions, municipalities, or water districts) to set up a regulatory and institutional framework that clarifies each stakeholder’s rights and responsibilities. The stakeholders include; (1) owners; (2) renters; (3) the water utility; and (4) companies that provide third-party billing services. Property owners often use third parties to install and read submeters, as well as to provide the monthly billing services[5]. The NSS discusses these regulatory issues in great detail, so we provide only a brief overview. The broad factors to consider include: (1) setting up a system for registering MF complexes that desire to switch to submetering or to RUBS; (2) requiring MF complex owners to fix leaks, and to upgrade fixtures to the latest water-efficiency standards since owners after the switch would have no incentives to do this; (3) instituting oversight mechanisms to both inform and protect consumers from unfair billing practices; (4) setting up technical standards for submeters; and (5) creating dispute resolution mechanisms. Water agencies wishing to promote submetering or RUBS will need to play at least a facilitating role, if not a leading one, in the creation of this regulatory infrastructure. We recommend that, at such time as these five factors begin to take shape in the marketplace or appear to be demanded by the marketplace, the Council’s Utilities Operations Committee take an active role in addressing them.

California Conservation Potential

We use a combination of data sources to project submetering’s statewide gross conservation potential. Since the NSS does not associate RUBS with any significant savings, we exclude this option from the calculation of conservation potential.

Table 1 shows the total number of apartment units in California by complex size, as well as the average number of residents per unit. These estimates are derived from two data sources, including; (1) the California Department of Finance; and (2) the American Housing Survey. The NSS (pg. xxiv) provides estimates of average indoor use (52.19 kgals per unit per year), which works out to roughly 143 gallons per unit per day. Normalizing this estimate by the average number of residents per unit in California (2.36), leads to a per-capita indoor consumption estimate of roughly 60 gallons per person per day, which appears to us as a reasonable estimate (AWWARF’s Residential End Uses of Water study estimates indoor consumption to be roughly 69 gpcd.)

Conservation potential is derived as the product of the following four factors; (1) the number of apartment units; (2) the average number of residents per unit; (3) the average indoor consumption per capita (60 gallons per day); and (4) the potential reduction in consumption due to submetering (15.3 percent). The result shown in Table 1 is expressed in acre-feet per year.

SOURCE: California Department of Finance ( and the American Housing Survey public use file (

One reason for estimating conservation potential by MF complex size is to permit reasoned judgments about what portion of this potential is realistically available. Submetering using automatic meter reading technology, the only kind considered by the NSS, not only involves costs associated with the purchase and installation of submeters, but also the purchase and installation of a central receiver, software, and computer to compile information from the submeters. Spreading the latter costs over a larger number of units obviously improves the overall economics of submetering. What is the minimum complex size below which submetering is not likely to be attractive? We do not know the answer to this question. And the answer is likely to change over time as the technology evolves and, potentially, hardware costs decline. But Table 1’s data can help make some reasoned judgments. For example, if submetering were to be considered attractive, say, only in complexes with 20 or more units, then the available conservation potential would be about 28,000 acre-feet per year. And this estimate would have to be further scaled back to account for less-than-full penetration of this market by submetering, and for complexes that are already submetered (nationally, roughly 4 percent of multi-family residents are billed upon the basis of actual consumption, NSS pg. xiii).

Cost Effectiveness

As long as owners do not adjust the rent downward at the time of switching to submetering, the NSS shows that benefits of submetering to property owners will likely exceed their expenses (NSS, pg. 189). For utilities as well, water savings represent a clear benefit since utilities do not bear any of the submetering costs, unless of course utilities take it upon themselves to install or otherwise subsidize submeters and/or provide the associated billing services[6]. In such cases, a detailed assessment of costs and benefits from the utility’s perspective would become necessary. Only the renter’s expense increases. Certainly this is true in the short run, although the interplay of economic forces can mitigate some of these adverse effects in the long run. It is possible that competing pressures of supply and demand in rental markets may force submetered properties over time to accept slightly lower rents relative to comparable master-metered properties, which would render the owner’s initial cost-effectiveness estimates as too rosy. Roughly 85 percent of apartment complexes are master metered at present (NSS, pg. xxi), so some amount of competition between submetered and master metered properties is inevitable. While it is worth analyzing how rental markets adapt to submetering in the long run, such analyses are not necessary for addressing the basic question—is submetering good or bad from a social perspective? The social perspective in some ways is the litmus test for judging whether or not to promote submetering. We assess this issue using the NSS’s own estimates.

It is relatively easy to reinterpret the NSS’s cost-effectiveness analyses for property owners (pg. 189) in a way that speaks to the social perspective. For example, the NSS, for its most optimistic scenario, shows that the present value of benefits to owners of submetered new construction is roughly $3,428 per unit (calculated at a combined water/wastewater price of $5.27/kgal, the average across all participating sites) while the present value of costs is roughly $675. In this analysis, benefits are calculated on the basis of the entire indoor consumption of the average apartment unit. From society’s perspective, however, only the amount of water that is saved represents any benefit, which the NSS estimates to be roughly 15.3 percent of indoor consumption. Thus, societal benefit from submetering is only roughly $524 ($3,428  0.153) per unit, compared to the per-unit cost of $675. Based on this limited assessment of costs and benefits, submetering from a social perspective therefore does not appear to be cost-effective for the average agency, although it may be for those where the cost of water/wastewater is significantly greater than $5.27/kgal..


The above discussion shows that signaling the price of water to MF residents through RUBS is unattractive. It does not save water, and it shields owners from price signals almost entirely (since irrigation costs are also allocated), without simultaneously strengthening price signals received by tenants. Submetering, on the other hand, appears costly. And, since price responsiveness of property owners appears to be significantly greater than that of submetered renters, the wisdom of sending price signals to the less responsive party remains questionable[7]. The NSS recognizes this fact and recommends remedying the adverse incentives that owners would have in a post-submetering world by requiring them to upgrade plumbing fixtures prior to the switch. All of this requires the setting up of a new regulatory and institutional framework to protect consumers, to ensure compliance by owners, and to oversee the operations of third-party billing services companies.

When all is said and done, however, the realizable benefit may be small. The average apartment’s indoor use is highly price-inelastic. We suspect that very high-end apartments, with several end-uses that permit significant behavioral discretion, are likely to make the best submetering candidates. Furthermore, unless utilities undertake or financially support submetering themselves, the economics of submetering appear to be such that third-party billing services companies will likely favor the larger complexes, leaving a large portion of the apartment portfolio (and its conservation potential) untapped.

In spite of the above observations, we realize that a water agency’s actual position on submetering will likely depend upon market forces operating within its service area. If third-party billing services companies begin to rapidly introduce RUBS in a given area, it would be in the interest of the affected water agencies to get out in front of these trends and attempt to steer the market toward submetering and away from RUBS. Between the two, the former is clearly preferable. Other factors that will likely influence agency viewpoints on submetering include: (1) the prevalence of large versus small multi-family complexes in its service area; (2) the extent to which submetering or RUBS is seen as a way of incentivizing owners to undertake (one time) water-efficient fixture retrofits rather than tenant behavior modification per se; and (3) the extent to which submetering or RUBS is seen as a drought-management tool (anecdotal evidence suggests that tenants during droughts do not respond as well to requested water use reductions as do the bill-paying customers).

We expect much additional data to become available in the next 12-36 months from comprehensive submetering studies currently underway. These studies will significantly sharpen our understanding of costs, benefits, market trends, and other factors pertaining to submetering. It is recommended that at such time as these studies are completed and documented, the topic of submetering be revisited and re-evaluated as a PBMP and BMP candidate.

Annotated Water Savings Literature

Summary of Individual Studies

Speedwell (1994) analyses data from a sample of 590 multi-family buildings in New York City and a sample of 676 multi-family buildings in Jamaica, New York. The Jamaica service area was metered and the New York City buildings were not. A statistical model was developed, regressing housing density, median income in the census tract, building size water use, and a dummy variable for Jamaica service area on water use. Controlling for these independent variables, metered billing resulted in a 36 percent decrease in water use, which the authors attribute to the metering of water consumption.

Bishop and Weber (1995) report the results of a statistical analysis of Denver’s universal metering program. The average annual water savings is reported as 28 percent, with a summer peak seasonal reduction of 38.4 percent in 1991. The authors cite landscape irrigation as the reason for the large summer savings with metering. The authors report that controlling for season, weather, and the effect of metering and conservation practices, 98 percent of the monthly variation is explained in the model. However, savings estimated in the statistical model cannot be separated from savings from concurrent programs used to promote the installation of conservation devices, such as bathroom retrofits. The savings effect is also not separated from the effect of newly metered accounts that may have systematic differences in lot size, income, or housing density.

Leblanc (1997) notes that the Residential Water Metering Study in Greater Vancouver assumed that “residential water meters, an appropriate rate structure and bimonthly billing would result in a 20 percent reduction in single family residential consumption, “based on the experience in other areas.”

Lovett (1992) reports water savings from the addition of universal metering has been in the range of 25 to 40 percent where it has been implemented in several Canadian locations.

Koch and Oulton (1990) report that single family dwellings that have been converted to individual meters save on average 20 to 30 percent.

CUWCC (2003) estimates that metering with volumetric pricing reduces demand by an average of 20 percent. Water consumption in un-metered service areas is considerably higher than in metered service areas.

Maddaus (2001) found an average reduction in water use of 18 percent due to the addition of meters with “associated publicity” in Davis, California. The study also found higher percent savings for high use customers.

Brown and Caldwell (1984) compiled water savings estimates in Table 1, here reproduced from Michell (2002) who reproduced the table from the original report. The Brown and Caldwell study for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found—in its evaluation of metered and unmetered homes in Denver—that meters save 20% (Maddaus 1987).

Table 1 – Compilation of Savings Estimates
Study Location Study Duration Sample size Water Savings %
Small cities
Milan, Tennessee 1946-1948 Citywide 45.00%
Kingston, New York 1958-1963 Citywide 27.00%
Zanesville, Ohio 1958-1961 Citywide 22.50%
Large Cities
Philadelphia, Penn 1955-1960 27% of service area 28.5-45%
Boulder, Co 1950s-1960s Citywide 36.00%
Calgary, Alberta 1968 14,755 metered, 61,575 flat-rate 45.00%
Central Valley cities, California 1970 Citywide 30.00%
John Hopkins Study 1961-1966 Four flat-rate neighborhoods, study areas in other western cities Little difference noted between metered and flat-rate residential in-house use; however, sprinkling use was much less for metered residences
Green’s Thesis 1972 Three of four flat-rate areas from John Hopkins project plus surrounding metered areas 13-30%
Beck Report 1966-1968 Two flat-rate areas plus two metered areas from Aurora Results similar to John Hopkins study.
Bryson’s Thesis 1971 90,290 flat-rate residential service, 19,080 metered residences 25.00%
Source: Reproduced from Brown and Caldwell (1984) as reported in Mitchell (2002)

Lund (1984) compiled water savings estimates in Table 2, here reproduced from Mitchell (2002) who reproduced the table from the original report.

Table 2 Estimates of Use Reduction from Water Metering
City Year  % Reduction Reference
Kingston, NY 1958-63 20.00% Cloonan, 1965
Philadelphia 1955-60 28.00% Cloonan, 1965
Boulder, CO 1960-65 40.00% Hanke & Flack, 1968
various, USA 1963-65 34.00% Howe & Linaweaver, 1967
Israeli apts. - 14-34% Darr et al., 1975
Malmoe, Sweden 1980 34.00% Hjorth, 1982
Solomon Is. 1969-70 50.00% Berry, 1972
Flyde, UK 1970-72 10.00% Smith, 1974
Malvern, UK - 20.00% Smith, 1974
Malvern, UK 1970-75 6.00% Phillips & Kershaw, 1976

Program and Device/Activity Cost Estimates

Program Costs

Participant program costs may include:

  • Meter installation cost, if not paid by the supplier.

Supplier program costs may include:

  • Staff time to develop meter program and new rates structure
  • Meter and installation costs, if the supplier pays.
  • Administration
  • Contractors
  • Marketing

Denver Water Department (1993) reports the average cost per meter setting to be $425, including purchase, installation, repair of deteriorating lines, and public education.

Bishop and Weber (1995) report costs in the range of $250 to $750 per meter for purchase and installation. The cost to install a meter in a new construction residence is cited as $175.

Leblanc (1997) reports that the cost of meter purchase and installation is $210 for indoor and $450 for outdoor. [We assume Canadian dollars, although it is not specified in the article].

Westerling and Hart (1995) develop a cost minimization model to determine the optimal period of time between meter replacements. Their sample calculations indicate a range between 7 and 14 years.

CUWCC (2003) report the costs of the installing meter retrofits vary depending on the size of the meter. For example, costs are in the range of $500-$1000 for single-family dwellings in Central Valley/per meter, and $500-$3000 for multi-family dwellings & commercial connections. There are additional costs to read the meter and bill the residential customer with a volumetric rate.

Mitchell (2002) assembled the estimates of water meter installation costs in Table 3.


Aquacraft (2004) reported cost in new construction of $125 for meter, transmitter, and installation ($300 for retrofits), $25 for receiver, computer, and software, and an annual service fee of $36.


Payments conventions may vary from supplier to supplier. For example, where new development takes place, the developer and new owners, not by the supplier, may incur metering cost. Alternatively, the supplier may incur retrofit costs.

Confidence in Estimates


Related Literature

American Water and Energy Savers, “Water Submetering for Commercial Property,” URL:, April 2003.

American Water Works Association, “Water Meters: Selection, Installation, Testing, and Maintenance, 4th Edition, (M6),” 1999.

Aquacraft, Inc, et al., “National Multiple Family Submetering and Allocation Program Study” with East Bay Municipal Utility District, 2004.

Berry, N.S.M. (1972), “The Effect of Metering on Water Consumption in Honiara-British Solomon Islands,” Journal, of the Institution of Water Engineers, Vol. 26, No. 7 (October), pp. 375-380

Bishop, W. J., and J.A. Weber (1995), “Impacts of Metering: A Case Study at Denver Water,” prepared for the 20th Congress IWSA, Durban, South Africa, September.

Brown & Caldwell (1984), “Effect of Water Meters on Water Use,” Prepared for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Contract H-5230.

California Urban Water Conservation Council, “AB 514 (Kehoe): Water Meters – Support, Hearing: Senate Agriculture and Water Resources – July 1, 2003.” Letter from Mary Ann Dickinson to Senator Michael Machado, June 24, 2003.

City of Kamloops (2001), “Water Use Efficiency Committee Final Report, Appendix E.”

City of Portland Bureau of Water Works, “Multi-Family Housing Water Conservation Manual: A Practical Guide to Saving Water and Money,” undated.

Cloonan, E.T. (1965), “Meters Save Water, “ in Modern water Rates, Battenheim Publishing Co., N.Y.

Darr, Peretz, Stephen L. Feldman, and Charles S. Kamen (1975), “Socioeconomic Factors Affecting Domestic Water Demand in Israel,” Water Resources Research, Vo. 11, No. 6, pp. 805.

Denver Water Department (1993), "Final Report: Universal Metering Project, “Customer Services Section, Public Affairs Division, March.

Goodman, J. (1999), “Water Conservation From User Charges in Multifamily Rental Housing,” National Multi Housing Council, June 1999.

Goodman, J. and E. Lee (1999), “Multifamily Housing: Direct Billing Spurs Water Conservation,” National Multi Housing Council, September 1999, URL:

Griffin, W., “Utility Billing Programs Can Lower Housing Costs,” National Submetering & Utility Allocation Association Forum, June 2001, URL: Hanke, Steve H. and Ernest Flack Jr. (1968), “Effects of Metering Urban Water,” Journal of the American Water Works Association, Vol. 60.

Hjorth, Peder (1982), Identifying och Analys av Faktorer Vilka Styr Vattenforbrukningen och Dess Variationer, Report No. 3068, Department of Water Resources Engineering, Lund Institute of Technology, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden, 47. pp.

Howe, Charles W. and F.P. Linaweaver Jr. (1965), “The Impact of Price on Residential Water Demand and Its Relation to System Design, “Water Resources Research, Vol. 1.

Industrial Economics, Inc., “Submetering, RUBS, and Water Conservation,” for National Apartment Association and National Multi Housing Council, June 1999.

Koch, R. N. and R.F. Oulton (1990), “Submetering: Conservation’s Unexplored Potential,” AWWA Conference Proceedings

Koch, T., “Water And Heat Savings In Russian Apartment Buildings - Results Of The Dubna Project,” Institute for Energy Policy, Undated.

Las Vegas Valley Water District, “The Impacts of Submetering on Water Usage at Two Mobile Home Communities in Las Vegas, Nevada,” with Aquacraft Inc., Proceedings of the American Water Works Association Water Sources Conference, 2002.

Leblanc, L., et al. (1997), “Is Residential Metering Cost-Beneficial in Water-Rich Greater Vancouver?” Conference Proceedings of the American Water Works Association, Pacific Northwest Section

Lovett, D. (1992), “Water Conservation Through Universal Metering,” 44th Annual Convention of the Western Canada Water and Wastewater Association Proceedings.

Lund, J. R. (1986) “Metering Utility Services: Theory and Water Supply Applications,” Water Resources Series Technical Report No. 103, University of Washington, Dept. of Civil Engineering.

Maddaus, L.A., “Effects Of Metering On Residential Water Demand for Davis California,” Master’s Degree Project for the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, University Of California, Davis, March 2001.

Maddaus, W.O., “The Effectiveness of Residential Water Conservation Measures,” Journal AWWA, March 1987.

Mitchell, D.M., “Cost of Meter Installation for Different Areas of CA,” Memo to Eric Poncelet, CONCUR, Inc., December 13, 2002.

Mitchell, D.M., “Water Conservation Benefits Of Metering/Volumetric Billing,” Memo to Eric Poncelet, CONCUR, Inc., October 21, 2002.

National Submetering & Utility Allocation Association, “Bibliography Of Utility Submetering and Allocation Industry Information,” URL:, undated, downloaded August 2004.

Phillips, J.H. and C.G. Kershaw (1976), “Domestic Metering - An Engineering and Economic Appraisal,” Journal of the Institution of Water Engineers and Scientists, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 203-216.

Rosales, J., C. Weiss, and W. DeOreo, “The Impacts of Submetering on Water Usage at Two Mobile Home Communities in Las Vegas, Nevada,” 2002 Water Sources Conference Proceedings.

Seattle Public Utilities, “Sub-Metering: The Next Big Conservation Frontier?” presented at Conserv99, 1999.

Smith, R.J. (1974), “Some Comments on Domestic Metering,” Journal of the Institution of Water Engineers, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 47-53.

Speedwell, Inc. (1994), “The Impact of Metered Billing for Water and Sewer on Multifamily Housing in New York,” prepared for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, September.

Water Resources Engineering Inc., “Overview of Retrofit Strategies: A Guide for Apartment Owners and Managers,” for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, May 2002.

Water Resources Engineering Inc., “Retrofitting Apartment Buildings to Conserve Water,” for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, May 2002.

Westerling, D.L., and F.L. Hart (1995), “A Rational Approach for Making Decisions on Replacement of Domestic Water Meters,” Journal NEWWA, December.


  1. Mayer, P. W. et al., National Multiple Family Submetering and Allocation Billing Program Study, 2004, accessible at
  2. Author’s estimates derived from the 2003 American Housing Survey public use file (
  3. Based upon personal communication with Peter Mayer, lead author of the NSS.
  4. The 1992 Energy Policy Act mandates the use of efficient plumbing fixtures in buildings constructed after 1994, although to account for implementation delays, 1995 may serve as a better demarcation point. Properties built after 1995 can be expected to have lower per-capita consumption regardless of whether they are submetered or master metered.
  5. Third party billing services companies have become increasingly important stakeholders in this arena. Their trade association’s website ( contains much useful information.
  6. Utilities may need to modify billing programs to permit recording of submetered consumption in fractions of conventional billing units (hcf or kgals).
  7. An issue for utilities to consider is whether owners should be proscribed from allocating irrigation costs to renters in submetered complexes.
The given value was not understood.
  1. In multi-family complexes (e.g., condominiums), these costs are passed on to the occupant-owner through association dues or other similar billing mechanisms.