By Kevin Hulit
Chief Marketing Officer, Cedar Mountain RVI
Submetering is a system that allows a landlord or management body to separate tenants’ individual utility usage, creating a more customized view of power or utility usages among the tenants so that they can ultimately be billed accordingly by the utility provider.
Most often it is applied to electric or water utilities, and is a small investment that can be recuperated in a short period of time using the cost savings that typically result from making such changes. This modern approach to utility billing has been adopted on a large scale in recent years, and is a trend that is expected to grow.
Implemented in places like multi-tenant properties, government buildings, and RV parks, studies have shown that submetering can reduce utility usage by 25 percent, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Residential Electrical Submetering Manual.
For campground owners, submetering has a direct impact on the financial stream as well as the overall experience for campers visiting the campground. On a larger scale it also directly impacts the environment; something campers care a whole lot about.
In a report titled, “Why are Electricity Prices Increasing? An Industry-Wide Perspective,” The Edison Foundation reveals that while electricity remains an excellent value, future changes to the power industry will put a strain on the utility, and the significant and necessary investments needed to keep it sound will require rate increases to finance them.
Submetering allows campgrounds to get ahead of this eminent increase by bringing cost savings for electricity into the financial plan ahead of the rate increases. With a cost savings plan in place, campground owners can then decide how best to invest in their business, whether in infrastructure like new playgrounds or dog parks, upgrades like bandwidth increases for WiFi, or simply saving for future expenses. The opportunities are boundless.
Wayne Hulit, CEO of Cedar Mountain RVI, a Virginia-based company involved in WiFi installations and upgrades for campgrounds, sees how the savings from submetering campsites has impacted his business.
“The money saved on the utility end of the business serves the owners well, from a reinvestment perspective,” he explained. “We’ve had several campgrounds contact us for site surveys to evaluate their WiFi.”
In any scenario, the argument can be made that submetering unlocks funds which can then be used elsewhere.
So, how exactly does installing submeters deliver savings on electricity and water utilities to campground owners? The simple answer is that it gets the owner off the hook for paying for them. Deferring payment of utilities to guests takes the burden off the campground owner, providing instant savings on the expense.
Whether or not the savings are passed on to the customer or used for investment is a business decision the campground owner will have to make, but either way the practice of holding the camper responsible for their personal utility usage would be well received.
When campers don’t have to pay to run multiple air conditioning units in their neighbor’s RV, they will appreciate separate billing.
One of the many benefits of technology is that it is constantly improving, getting smaller, less expensive, and more capable of broader applications along the way. In a time when customization is an expectation among consumers, being able to tailor fit technology to meet expectations is a necessity in business.
Submeters are relatively small and inexpensive. Submetering utility usage by guests is a very plausible investment that will pay off in a big way. Metering guests at the campsite for the utilities they use will more likely cause them to use less in order to save money on the usage.
In an RV Industry News podcast, Wade Elliott, president and founder of Utility Supply Group, commented on campers’ approach to utility usage in situations where submetering is applied to their stay.
“If you’re thinking about the power that you’re using, you’re a little bit more careful with it, and will watch it a little closer,” he said.
Conservation of utilities is conservation of resources. Having guests use resources more efficiently is better for the environment overall, something they will surely appreciate while visiting the wild spaces in and near the campground.
Expenses will always be a rising tide. Taking advantage of ever-improving technology like utility submeters can help campground owners stay afloat while at the same time deliver the experiences their guests expect.
Kevin Hulit is the chief marketing officer for Cedar Mountain RVI, a Virginia-based company involved in WiFi installations and upgrades for campgrounds. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 732.232.9787.