What is a Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS)?

Calculating utility bills accurately is a frequent challenge for property managers in multi-tenant commercial real estate (CRE) buildings.

Tenants want to be billed accurately for the utilities they use. However, it is not always possible for property teams to calculate and allocate utility costs accurately because of various restrictions, including inappropriate plumbing or electrical configurations, lack of budget or lack of technology.

Two methods help property management companies calculate utility charges: RUBS and submetering.

RUBS is a simple billing method that enables property managers to collect utility fees in a multitenant building based on factors such as square footage, number of rooms, number of water fixtures or number of occupants.

Submetering is a system that allows property teams of multi-tenant buildings to calculate utility usage accurately through submeters and charge utility fees accordingly.

This article draws comparisons between RUBS utility billing and submeter billing and explains the benefits of submetering for CRE.

Are you a property manager having a difficult time calculating utility bills accurately? Simplify your submeter billing today with Genea.

RUBS Utility Billing vs. Submeters

Both RUBS and submetering have their advantages and disadvantages. 

 RUBS Utility BillingSubmeter Billing
CalculationIt calculates utility charges based on square footage or number of occupants.It calculates utility charges by tracking the usage through submeters installed for each owner/tenant/family.
AccuracyThe RUBS system is less accurate than submetering.Highly accurate as costs of utilities are drawn based on actual usage.
Leak detectionLeak detection may not be possible with RUBS.It helps detect leaks by analyzing the day-to-day usage of utilities.
ControlSince costs are estimated, tenants will have less control over their usage and billing.Since costs reflect true usage, tenants will gain greater control over their usage and billing. The higher control results in up to 40% savings every month.
InstallationThe RUBS formula is easy to implement in any type of property.Installation of submeters may involve tweaking the existing infrastructure and plumbing configuration.
CostIt does not cost anything to implement RUBS.Installation of submeters may have an initial capital investment. 

Benefits of Submeter Billing for Commercial Real Estate 

Submetering offers a lot of benefits over RUBS for commercial properties. Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of submetering billing software to understand how it helps CRE property teams generate accurate billing, send automatic meter readings to utility companies, and save energy.

Send Automatic Meter Readings to the Utility Billing Company

With RUBS, property teams need to submit the meter readings to the utility billing company at the end of the billing cycle to generate the bill. This will be a tedious task for CRE property teams if they don’t have the technology that could streamline the meter reading and billing process of networked and non-networked meters.

A cloud-based automated submeter billing software works with your existing networked and non-networked submeters to send energy consumption details to the utility billing services company in regular intervals automatically to generate monthly bills at the right time.

Most Accurate for Utility Usage and Invoices

Manual processes such as entering meter readings manually and keeping records on clipboards will often lead to billing inaccuracies and operational inefficiencies.


Entering data manually can often lead to a 3% error rate. For large-scale CRE properties with a plethora of utility accounts, this error rate could be detrimental. Moreover, it provides an inaccurate picture of each unit’s utility usage.

Operational Inefficiencies

A recent survey found that managers spend approximately eight hours a week on manual tasks. Manual processes waste the precious time of property managers that they otherwise would have spent addressing vital issues.

Since submeter billing software eliminates the manual intervention in reading individual meters, aggregating data, and generating invoices, the probability of inaccuracies in determining utility usage and generating invoices will become virtually zero.

Provides Data for Utility System Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting is an approach used to find and correct issues with mechanical and electronic devices. The unexpected behavior exhibited by submeters due to overheating, aging, and improper soldering of components will deliver undesired results. This inappropriate behavior of submeters requires quick troubleshooting and testing to identify issues.

Submeter billing software provides all the relevant data that help in electricity utility system troubleshooting. For example, the technician can quickly retrieve data during the daytime (when all equipment is working) and nighttime (when all equipment is idle) of the previous day to check if the submeter is working properly or not.

Save Energy by Knowing Your Utility Expenditures 

Two methods help property teams of CRE and multifamily buildings save energy: leakage detection and awareness of utility expenditure.

Leakage Detection

If you don’t know where the energy leakage is happening, you cannot take appropriate steps to save energy. This exactly is where submeter billing software comes into the picture. It helps you identify the atypical energy consumption of the building through historical data and note down the timeframes of uneven upward spikes in consumption in the recent past. By analyzing the equipment that was running during the time frames of upward spikes in energy consumption, property teams will be able to detect leaks.

For instance, if an HVAC system is one of the equipment running during the timeframe of recently spiked energy consumption, you can check for leaky air ducts and damage to the refrigerant line.

Awareness of Utility Usage

Submeter billing software helps property teams achieve better energy efficiency by providing real-time insights into the building’s energy consumption and water usage. By tracking the historical data, property teams can identify utility consumption patterns and implement techniques to reduce utility expenses.

For instance, if the property team of CRE property recognizes that the building is consuming a lot of energy during the night because most of its tenants are nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, it can opt for the time-of-use rate plans that charge low tariffs for off-peak hours, which according to Pacific Gas and Electricity Company, are 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. in spring, 10:00 p.m. to 2 p.m. in summer, and 9 p.m.  to 4 p.m. in winter.

Simplify Your Submeter Billing with Genea 

Though the RUBS is an easy-to-implement solution, it will not help property owners generate accurate bills, detect leaks and encourage tenants to reduce their energy usage. Submeter billing enables property teams of CRE to track utility usage for their tenants accurately and generate invoices accordingly.

Genea offers cloud-based submeter billing software that streamlines your submeter reading and billing process. It eliminates manual record-keeping on clipboards and enables your property teams to focus on important tasks that enhance productivity, cash flow and profitability.

The main benefits of Genea’s submeter billing software are:

  • No upfront costs: Genea uses your existing networked and non-networked meters and integrates them with the submeter billing software. This helps you avoid the expensive hardware and installation costs.
  • Instant validation of readings: Genea Submeter Billing validates the meter readings immediately after they are generated. This helps property teams eliminate errors before they pile up.
  • Customer support: Genea’s customer support is available 24/7/365 to help property teams and tenants when they need it most.
  • Compliance and regulation: Genea’s submeter billing software helps CRE properties meet compliance standards such as ASHRAE 90.1, CA Title 24, New York Local Law 88, Seattle Energy Code and more.

Want to try it for yourself? Schedule a demo to learn how Genea Submeter Billing can streamline your meter reading and billing.

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