Utility cost recovery is critical to maximizing a multifamily property’s NOI. Non-payments (and late payments) impact cash flow and the homeowner or property manager’s ability to properly budget.
Utility cost-recovery is essential to a property owner’s bottom line, even a simple mistake in your billing system can end up costing thousands. Here are the five most common utility billing errors owners make and how to fix them.
1. USING THE WRONG SUBMETER SUPPLIER
Submeters work by sending out pulses that represent the amount of utility consumed. You must obtain the raw read from the meter in order to determine the true consumption of a unit. To acquire genuine gallon amounts, multiply by the pulse multipliers.
Rent control refers to legislation restricting rental rates in a city or state. The maximum rent that can be charged for a unit and the amount that the rent can be increased per year varies per municipality. Cities use rent control laws to regulate the housing market.
What is a Ratio Utility Billing System? (RUBS)
Simply put, RUBS divides utility bills among residents of a property based on predetermined criteria. A cost-effective solution for property owners to recoup expenditures while also proportionately sharing conservation responsibility with residents in a fair and acceptable manner. Beyond the financial benefits, conserving the Earth's natural resources is in our collective interest.
“Energy costs are getting higher, and the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use" ~ Paul Pettipas - Thrice Energy Solutions
The benefits of consuming less and conserving more
At Livable, we know that energy conservation contributes to our goal of saving the environment and saving apartment owners money.
Congress did not pass any new legislation and, in fact, its initial moratorium expired in July 2020. After that point, the extensions were directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which claimed it was authorized by a 1944 law to mandate that people stay in their homes so that they would not be put into situations where they might become infected with and spread COVID-19.
“At Livable, our goal has always been to help save the environment while also saving apartment owners money by making residents responsible for their utility usage. We have seen that making tenants more aware of their usage can create significant savings. But just how much those savings might be can vary greatly by location, depending on local utility rates. With that in mind, read on to find out where your city ranks in the below list of most and least expensive utility costs” - Daniel Sharabi - CEO
Apartment List showed in 2021 Honolulu in the top spot with an average of just under $90, with second-place Oxnard, California coming in at $83. The West Coast dominates the list of the most expensive average water bills in the U.S. as of 2021 - San Diego took the third-most-expensive spot with $79. San Jose, Sacramento, Seattle, San Francisco, Stockton and Portland all made it into the top ten as well. In the tenth position, with an average water bill of $63 per month, Virginia Beach was the only East Coast city to break into the top ten.
The East Coast tended to be among the cheapest places for water bills, with Upstate New York leading the way. Albany had the least-expensive average water bill at just over $20 a month, but Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo all had water bills under $30 a month as well.
Honolulu also took first for the most-expensive gas bill and was the only city in the survey to break $90 a month for this utility. Other than that, most of the other most-expensive gas cities were in colder cities since gas bills are often an indication of high heating costs. Detroit, Buffalo, Omaha, Chicago and Boston all had average gas bills above $80 a month.
Electricity was by far the biggest single bill in all markets and the only utility that didn’t seem to follow a particular geographic pattern. Birmingham, Alabama took the top spot with an average electric bill close to $200 a month. Augusta, Georgia and Memphis, Tennessee all had bills that came in around $180 a month, which we can assume is due in part to higher cooling costs in the south. Connecticut also had several cities in the top ten, because electrical transmission rates are higher in the Northeast, as are land costs for building power plants. Boise, Idaho had the lowest total average utility bill at $186.
Due in large part to its $184 a month average electric bill, Bridgeport, Connecticut has the highest total utility cost of any city in the U.S., coming in at a whopping $353 per month for residents there.
Whether you're on the West Coast, East Coast, and everywhere in between, it's always smart to separate rent from utilities! Don’t let high energy usage take you by surprise, Livable’s user-friendly Property Manager Dashboard makes it easy to see what’s happening at your building and immediately increases the value of your asset. Book a call with a Livable team member today to start saving!
An easy and simple change you can make in your space is to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs such as LEDs that help reduce your bills. Regular incandescent bulbs use heat instead of light to release most of their energy. The modern LED style bulbs save a lot of electricity and money over time as they are energy efficient and last ten times longer compared to regular bulbs.