This really isn’t a New York City specific post, but I am not really sure where else this happens. In many older, multi-family building, the costs for electricity are included with the monthly rent. Some of these buildings are now being retrofitted to submeter the electric usage by the tenants so that, in turn, each tenant can be charged for their own usage. Many times there are financial reasons for building owners to do this, but submeters also purported to save energy. From the New York Times,
The concept, called submetering, is a pocketbook approach to energy conservation. Instead of being allowed to use heaters, lights and appliances without worrying about the cost, tenants will have to pay for the power they use, which proponents say provides an economic incentive to reduce energy consumption.
In a recent example of this occuring in the Roosevelt Island section of NYC, there were some rather interesting results.
Last week, managers at Roosevelt Landings, the home of many low-income and working-class families, handed out sample electricity bills. The bills, for a 33-day period from November to December, were based on the readings of submeters installed in individual apartments.
Vera Velloso, 40, who lives in a three-bedroom unit with her husband and three children, received a bill for $1,050.43, which was about half of what she pays in rent.
The first item that caught my attention in the article was electric heat in NYC?(!) What were they thinking? More to the point, however, hopefully this sort of thing gets more consumers and potential buyers of real estate more focused on energy usage and costs where they live. Imagine if potential buyers asked for six months of utility bills as part of due diligence. Some of those energy retrofits might start to look more appealing.