In most locations, summer is the time when residential utility use really skyrockets. The air conditioning is on full blast and people stay in seeking refuge from the heat, using lights and electricity during peak hours when rates may be higher. Sweaty weather also means more showers and loads of laundry, increasing water bills.
But this year, summer could be your season to save by increasing tenant responsibility with Livable’s fully customizable ratio utility billing system. Read on to learn more.
How to Control Costs as Utility Rates Rise
According to a survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the residential electricity price nationwide will increase 1.6 percent in 2021 and 1.5 percent in 2022, continuing an upward trend. Rates have gone up six out of the last eight years, according to the EIA.
Nationwide, water rates are also up over the long term. Many cities are contending with aging systems, fewer resources and extreme weather, pushing water and wastewater bills up by 30 percent in less than a decade. Waste management costs are up as well, with haulers operating expenses rising at the same time that recycling profits are plummeting.
Looking at these upward trends can be overwhelming, especially when many property owners are still responsible for paying for their tenants’ usage. In order to combat these rising costs, some proactive property owners are considering ratio utility billing systems (RUBS) as an inexpensive and easy way to make tenants financially responsible for their usage and incentivize conservation.
These software solutions do not require an onerous submetering system, and easily, legally and affordably allow owners to shed much of the expense of ever-rising utility costs. (Make sure to check with a lawyer about legality in your jurisdiction. In some rent-controlled areas, RUBS can only be instituted on turnover.)
An experienced Ratio Utility Billing Systems specialist can help owners dramatically reduce consumption at their properties by making residents financially responsible for their usage. Livable often hits double-digit decreases in buildings that implement its best-in-field RUBS program. For example, in a fully occupied 4-unit building, water and electricity use went down 31 percent in the first year that Livable's customizable RUBS system was implemented. Use increased the following year due to COVID shelter-in-place measures, but not significantly.
Livable has seen similar reductions across property sizes, with even a 300-plus building showing a 24 percent reduction in usage and an 89 percent recovery rate for the owner. In this case, that meant over $180,000 recovered in just one year of RUBS.
Plus, since housing providers are able to regain close to 90 percent of their water and energy costs through RUBS, they can choose to shoulder a bit more of these utility bills during these uncertain economic times. They could then pass along a “goodwill deduction” to help their tenants get back on their feet after the recent downturn.
Livable even has a “Net Zero” billing program where owners continue to pay all of the utility bills, but residents receive a monthly statement highlighting what their costs would have been, as well as some simple steps they can take to lower their usage. Net Zero allows tenants in all markets, even those with strict rent control restrictions, to see the costs associated with their consumption, which can substantially decrease utility use and increase the timeliness of leak reporting.