Author Topic: First Multi-Family Unit: Separate Meters?  (Read 780 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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First Multi-Family Unit: Separate Meters?
« on: July 08, 2019, 12:02:39 PM »
Hello Mustachians,

I've recently purchased my first duplex. This is a single family home converted into a duplex here in Virginia. As such, there is only one electric and one water meter. Would you recommend installing separate meters? I've heard the strategy of including it into a tenants rent, but that opens me up to the possibility of having to "eat" potentially high water/electric bills. I've also heard about companies like "Guardian" for separate meters, but I've heard this is a costly alternative. Do you have any recommendations? I would love to hear from you.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: First Multi-Family Unit: Separate Meters?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2019, 12:57:25 PM »
Would be a whole lot simpler to separate the utilities and have them on their own meters.   That way they can keep the place any temperature they want and use as much water as they want and the bill is on them.   There will be some costs to get the units separated and on their own meters but I'd think it is worth it if you intend to keep the place long term.

Jon Bon

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Re: First Multi-Family Unit: Separate Meters?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2019, 02:49:28 PM »
So is this a true duplex or some sort of handyman special conversion? Ive never seen a true duplex with 1 electrical meter. Do you have 2 panels or just one? If the electrical can be easily split I would go for it. Water I see all the time on 1 meter. Why? No clue but water seams to be always shared and gas/electric separately metered.

So I would try to get electric split out if it was not too difficult. However water in my area is never on a separate meter from the water company. You can get a sub meter from a company called guardian.

Do not do this.

They are TERRIBLE. They are slow, they are inaccurate, they are unresponsive. I had them for years. Recently I went to $15 per person per month for water and it was the best thing I ever did. Sure I might get a bit of an overage, but its so much easier to include int he rent then have to get different amounts at different times in a different billing process.  I think the cost to have one of their sub-meter's even installed is about $300. I'd stick with a flat rate for now, why makes thing complicated?


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: First Multi-Family Unit: Separate Meters?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2019, 10:32:37 AM »
If the wiring between the units is completely separate, then yes, separate boxes. If the wiring is mixed, you'd have to fix that before you can do separate boxes and meters. Same with water, gas, etc. Depending on what systems looks like will determine if separate is even possible.

My parents own a duplex. There are 2 electric meters, the wiring and boxes are separate. There are 2 gas meters but one gas line in. But there's only 1 water meter. Each unit has their own gas and electric accounts, and the owners (my parents) pay the water bill and have increased the rent amount a tad to reflect it.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: First Multi-Family Unit: Separate Meters?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2019, 11:43:12 AM »
For gods' sake, I beg you, get 2 separate meters. You don't want to deal with sub-meters or the pain of looking at your tenant's profligate electricity usage.


  • Bristles
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Re: First Multi-Family Unit: Separate Meters?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2019, 07:21:41 AM »
Ugh this is a tough situation. As @Sibley pointed out, you might not be plumbed/wired for separate metering and unless you were planning to do a gut reno, ripping out your walls to change this is probably not going to be cost effective.

I have't tried this, but could you charge half of utility costs to each tenant? That would give them motivation to conserve with the tradeoff of complaints about the other tenant's usage and, of course, additional pain for you when they don't pay.