The choice of smart meters for apartment buildings, commercial buildings or other multifamily types of properties, such as duplexes or townhomes, is a selling point for many potential tenants.
It allows each unit to have its own meter, so tenants pay for the amount of water they use each billing cycle, not a ratio or a portion of the total bill for the entire unit. For those who use limited amounts of water or practice water conservation, this can build in the potential for considerable cost savings over the duration of the tenancy.
Smart metering is very common in new construction for these multifamily types of complexes. Most apartment buildings today, particularly the larger units, will have their own smart meter. However, for older buildings going through retrofit projects on plumbing systems or when the building owner wants to convert to smart meters, there may be some issues to consider.
Original or Modified Plumbing Systems
When older buildings were designed using standard plumbing methods, it is possible to add smart metering relatively easily in most cases. Standard plumbing involves the lines running into each apartment, condo or townhouse unit coming off of a central main.
Unfortunately, in many older apartments or in homes modified to multiple family dwellings, there can be a much more complex system of plumbing. It may not be possible to meter based on where the feeder lines into the apartments originate.
The same may be true in large complexes such as townhomes or manufactured home communities. By talking to a utility management company and understanding your options, it will be possible to determine if smart metering is possible or, based on the current plumbing systems if it will be cost effective to retrofit the building and install smart meters.
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