According to the City of Chicago Department of Water Management (1) (2009), MeterSave “is a program offered by the City of Chicago Department of Water Management to non-metered Chicago homeowners to voluntarily install meters to help them save water and save money”. The program gives incentives to homeowners across Chicago to install water meters that monitor the use of water (ibid.). This helps homeowners to control and eventually reduce their water consumption. The program is promoted by the City of Chicago  Department of Water Management as an effort to reduce water consumption within the city. The internet page of the program provides further information about water usage, tells homeowners why they should care and gives tips on how to actually save water (Department of Water Management, 2009 (2)).

According to an article by Eric Zorn, published by the ChicagoTribune newspaper in 2014, the MeterSave program is part of the policy to change the water tax system in Chicago from a flat rate model to a pay-as-you-use model. People were skeptical when the program enrolled in 2011. It was too good to be true as homeowners would get a meter for free that helps them save water and money. Yet, according to Zorn (2014), 16’000 meters were installed by 2013, 4’000 more than expected.

According to spokesman Jim Chilsen of the Citizens Utility Board (in Zorn, 2014), the program was successful because it put the power back into the hands of the consumers and gave attractive incentives to them: As they save water, they save money.

Regulations are often tricky to implement. A program like this, that works with incentives rather than regulations, is appealing if the incentives are beneficial to the consumers. The implementation, whether done through incentives or regulations, takes time. According to Zorn (2014), over 270’000 unmetered homes in Chicago.


Department of Water Management (1) (2009). What is MeterSave? Found under

Department of Water Management (2) (2009). Water Saving Tips. Found under

Zorn, Eric (2014). Get a Water Meter? H2 oh yes. ChicagoTribune, February 2nd, 2014. Found under


4 thoughts on “MeterSave

  1. This was a new program that I had not heard of before. It would definitely be an eye opener to many to see the amount of water they consumer in a day. Is it possible to identify whether people use this information effectively or not? Even though they may have the information, the program would not be effective if the homeowners did not change their lifestyle. Also, if this is an affordable program, it should be spoken of and advertised more. This is something that I believe could be very useful in low income housing as it helps monitor consumption and budget.


    • It is indeed tricky to find any information about the outcome of the project. The projects website hasn’t been updated in a while, and I am not sure if the project is still running. I found some comments in newspapers, which gave personal insight but no analysis. But since “only” 270’000 houses in Chicago are unmetered, it might be not priority number one to the Water Management Department.


  2. I think this is a very interesting program, it related directly to my topic of smart meters within households. They are both ways for residents to be aware of how much energy or water they are using. However, I do not believe that people will use these effectively unless there is an incentive provided. The smart meters that are being offered by ComEd provide an energy roll over service which can be seen as in incentive. I believe that if the Water Department participated in something like this their results would turn out better.


  3. I can agree with the comments above. This is something new I haven’t heard about either. It will be great if the water levels get reduce. But how will people take this into action? If they are not inform that’s something else to do.


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