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Con Ed kicks off residential submetering.

Con Ed kicks off residential submetering

New York experienced more days of record-breaking temperatures this summer than ever before -- and the air conditioners ran and ran. Now the electric bills are in, and the old question arises over who should most fairly pay for the energy used in master-metered buildings, where there is just one electric bill for the whole building. This is a good time to consider Con Edison's Residential Submetering Program.

Submetering provides multiple-unit residential buildings with individual unit meters, so each resident pays for the actual amount of electricity they use. The building however, will still be master-metered and will retain its bulk rate service classification.

The Problem

The question comes up every year: How can we control energy costs in our building? Whether you are a building owner, building manager or a cooperative or condominium owner, your energy costs can be reduced if all parties are specifically responsible for the energy they use. Master-metered buildings can be energy wasters. Of course, there are energy-conscious tenants who use air-conditioning only on the hottest days and turn off their lights when not needed. But then there are the energy abusers: they turn their air conditioning on in May and it's still running in September.

In a recent Con Edison-sponsored interviews, people who live in master-metered buildings discussed the reasons they have for not conserving energy. Some of their reasons included:

"I want to make sure the apartment is cool when I come home after work. So I leave the air conditioner on all day even though no one is home."

"I have to keep my pet cool."

"I want to get the most for the rent I pay."

"I don't see the bills. So I don't care how much energy I use."

Whatever the reason, all tenants pay for wasted energy in higher utility bills and a less healthy environment.

Building owners, managers, and cooperative/condominium board members try to educate residents on how to eliminate energy waste. Many building managers display signs in hallways and elevators or distribute leaflets with tips on controlling air conditioner use, using more efficient lamps, replacing air conditioner filters, repairing leaky faucets, etc. In many buildings, energy costs are apportioned by levying a surcharge or add-on for appliances such as air conditioners, washing machines and dryers. But this method often creates adversarial relationships between management and residents.

The Solution?

In a word - submetering. In New York City, there are more than 20,000 submetered apartments where residents are responsible for their own energy bills. Over the past 10 years studies on submetering have been conducted by Con Edison, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (Energy Authority) and the New York State Energy Office (State Energy Office). The results show that substantial savings in energy and money can be achieved. Some of the submetering systems in the study have been operating for more than five years with annual savings of as much as 26 percent.

The Residential Submetering Program

To cut energy waste, Con Edison, the Energy Authority and the State Energy Office jointly sponsor the Residential Submetering Program. Here's what the program offers:

* Free independent engineering services -- Con Edison has hired a team of independent consulting firms to help you determine if submetering makes sense for your building. They will provide technical assistance throughout the submetering process. * A free customized report for your building -- The report describes the specific benefits of submetering for your building, including estimated energy savings and costs. Con Edison will also identify suitable submetering equipment. * $100 per apartment -- Con Edison will pay this incentive if you decide to install a suitable submetering system. * Low interest loans -- Subsidized loans to cover installation costs at 4 percent and 6.5 percent, depending on the term, are available through the State Energy Office.

To find out if submetering makes sense for your building, call Con Edison at 1-800-522-5635 and ask about the Residential Submetering Program.

Frank X. Lutz, P.E., is the project manager for the Residential Submetering Program.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Energy & Conservation Supplement
Author:Lutz, Frank X.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 18, 1991
Previous Article:Residential buildings save by conserving costs.
Next Article:Energy Specialties relocates.

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