What Are the Differences Between Metering and Submetering?

headshot of Dave Harroun
Dave Harroun, Chief Technical Officer, utiliVisor
May 11, 2021 (3 min read)
What are the differences between metering and submetering news article graphic

All submetering is metering but not all metering is submetering

While metering is an effective way to understand your overall building or facility energy bills, you must know the differences between metering and submetering and why submeters are required to measure specific outcomes and energy efficiencies.

What is building metering?

Building meters measure the energy delivered from the utility into your building or facility.

Many buildings have multiple building meters.  All of these are called metering or utility metering.

Building meters are typically below grade, such as in the basement areas of NYC buildings. The location can vary depending on your geographic region.

What is building submetering?

Building submetering is a meter within your building or facility for specific energy measurements.

When a meter – BTU, electric, gas, steam, or water meter – is used within a building or facility to measure the amount of energy for a specific purpose, area, or what we call “after the meter,” that is submetering.

For example, in a chilled water plant, submetering uses BTU meters with electric meters to measure a specific chill water pump’s efficiency.

In commercial buildings and universities, submeters provide the most accurate measurements for billing and department allocations of energy. When you need to accurately allocate tenant or department energy usage, demand and costs, use revenue-grade submeters.

What is the difference between building meter and submeter?

The difference between meters and submeters is their purpose and placement.

The building meter is measuring energy for the utility and your utility bill (i.e., the utility meter on the side of your building).

When you meter energy inside your building or facility, that breaks down your building or facilities’ energy into categories; that is submetering.

What types of submetering are there?

Several subcategories fall under the submetering umbrella.

Tenant submetering is a subcategory that focuses on measuring tenant-specific energy use, which may include demand measurements.

Plant submetering uses submeters to measure your plant’s energy. Submeters may include BTU meters, electric meters, flow meters, gas meters, steam meters, and meters embedded in your plant management systems.

Submetering Example: Universities

  • A university uses departmental submetering to understand the energy use in the college of engineering versus the college of liberal arts and sciences.

  • The college of engineering may choose to submeter at a more granular level to understand their energy better.

  • When a university has accurate submetering in place, it can share the submetering data with those within the university to discuss and improve energy efficiency for a more sustainable result.

When submetering may not be a cost-effective solution

Unlike most utility meters, where the meter cost is part of the utility services, submeters have their own upfront and ongoing costs. So, there are times when submetering is not cost-effective.

It is essential to look at the upfront and ongoing costs of submetering compared to the opportunities in what is being measured. 

  • When submetering to measure energy efficiency, compare the energy savings to the submetering costs.

  • When submetering to allocate costs, the accuracy of submetering is critical.

  • When submetering to measure process efficiencies, target the most critical process steps, then add submetering as you learn more.

You can submeter all utilities, but you may not want to. Be sure to evaluate the value of submetering.

How to make sure your submetering is valuable

Determining the value of submetering starts with an assessment. At utiliVisor, we begin with a detailed assessment and analysis.

For submetering and billing clients, utiliVisor completes a utility allocation/billing analysis.

  • Gather all your leases to document your lease interpretations for review.

  • Analysis of existing metering system's capabilities to tenant billing needs.

  • Advise clients on where they need submetering. utiliVisor can help install and service submeters.

  • Review and audit Client utility bill(s).

  • Make specific recommendations, based on utiliVisor's analysis, tailored to meet specific client needs.

For plant operation clients, utiliVisor completes an operational analysis.  

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of your equipment's performance and system operating costs on a real-time basis.

  • Analysis of data by Operations Center to find anomalies and outliers which will yield energy savings.

  • Identify a cost-effective and efficient sequence of operations based on building load and outside air temperature

  • Operations Center meets with clients to review findings and offer suggestions specific to their needs and energy efficiency goals.

  • Develop energy analytics and performance alerts to sustain Energy Conservation Measures that have been implemented.

In the same way you assess and improve your home, you're continually reassessing and improving a building or facility.

To continually improve and ensure the value of submetering - assessments, ongoing monitoring, and tracking are critical. 

Measuring effectiveness reveals the value of submetering.

Ready to discuss your metering or submetering needs?

Contact us here

About utiliVisor

Your tenant submetering and energy plant optimization services are an essential part of your operation. You deserve personalized energy insights from a team that knows buildings from the inside out, applies IoT technology and is energized by providing you with accurate data and energy optimization insights. When you need experience, expertise, and service, you need utiliVisor on your side, delivering consistent energy and cost-saving strategies to you. What more can our 40 years of experience and historical data do for you? Call utiliVisor at 212-260-4800 or visit utilivisor.com