Glossary of Terms


The following are commonly used terms in the utility billing and submetering industry:

Allocation: Calculating resident utility charges by means of a formula rather than by measured usage based on a meter. Allocation billing can be used in properties that cannot be individually metered due to plumbing or wiring issues. Allocation is how RUBS billings are derived.

Automatic Meter Reading (AMR): Automatic meter reading is the technology of automatically collecting data from metering devices (water, gas, electric) and transferring that data to a central database for billing and/or analysis.

Convergent billing: With convergent billing, the owner/property manager can include rent, trash, cable, Internet or other recurring fees with the utility charges on a single resident bill.

Cap rate (Capitalization rate): A measure of the ratio between the net operating income (NOI) produced by an asset (usually real estate) and its capital cost (the original price paid to buy the asset) or alternatively its current market value.

The rate is calculated in a simple fashion as follows:

Annual net operating income / Cost (or value) = Capitalization Rate

Common Area Deduction (CAD): In utility allocation formulas, it is a common practice to subtract common area utility usage (irrigation, leasing office utilities, parking lot lights, swimming pools, hallway heating/cooling, etc. ) from the master-metered utility charge before calculating resident bills.

Data Collector and Concentrator (DCC) or Remote Data Logger (RDL):  A small computing device that collects wireless data signals from multiple transmitters for the purpose of recording utility consumption data. This device is often connected to a phone line or the Internet. Billing providers access the DCC/RDL remotely to download usage data.

Energy conservation: The practice of decreasing the quantity of energy used. It may be achieved through efficient energy use, in which case energy use is decreased while achieving a similar outcome, or by reduced consumption of energy services.

Heat meter: An electronic device used to measure run-time, water temperature, and other error conditions for central hydronic heating systems--baseboard radiation, fan coil units--furnaces, domestic hot water heaters, and steam radiators. Also referred to as "heat allocation, energy cost allocation, or heat cost allocation" equipment.

Individually-metered: Properties that are individually-metered have installed a utility meter (water, electric, gas, or heat) in each residence for the purpose of measuring usage data and for billing.

Master-metered: A "master meter", usually owned by the local utility company providing water, electricity, or gas, measures consumption for a building(s) or complex that serves multiple residences.

Multi-family: Multifamily or multi-family residential (also known as Multi-dwelling Unit or MDU) is a classification of housing where multiple separate housing units for residential (i.e. non-commercial) inhabitants are contained within one building. The most common form is an apartment building.

Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS): Sometimes used to allocate costs to tenants when submetering is not practical or not possible due to plumbing or wiring constraints. This method divides utility costs by square footage, number of occupants, or some other combination of cost ratios.

Repeater: An electronic device used to strengthen/enhance a wireless data signal so that it can read by a remote reading device.

Submetering: Utility submetering is the implementation of a system that allows multifamily residential complexes to directly measure the amount of water, electricity, or gas used in a residence.  Submetering involves installing a utility meter in each home that can be read manually or remotely via a wireless network and a data collection system. Other spellings include sub-metering or sub metering.

Transmitter: An electronic device used to send wireless meter data to a data collector.