Matter’s approach to dual occupancy

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Dual occupancies – a remarkable property investment where the landlord collects two rental incomes on one property and a good way to increase equity. Matter thought well if you share one block of land with two rental dwellings then why not share one solar system as well?

With ‘Solar for Dual-Occupancy’ a property investor can now make four incomes from one property. Here is a quick overview of how Matter supports dual occupancy. (for more on dual occupancy see primer on dual occupancy )

Dual Occupancy and Electricity

A property investor has two choices when they create a duplex. They can have:

  1. A shared electricity grid connection and shared solar between two dwelling:-
  2. Separate (Two) electricity grid connections but with grid meters but not shared solar

Where a property investor has a duplex with two separate grid meters Matter regards these as two Single-occupancies NOT a dual occupancy. This is an important distinction.

Matter’s definition of Dual Occupancy for Solar

From Matter’s perspective Dual Occupancy for solar is defined where there is only one grid connection and two tenancies on one land parcel.

The property has solar that is shared amongst the tenancies.

The grid utility bill will be in the property investors name. In essence the property investor buys the “grid energy” from the utility, they then blends this grid electricity with solar energy or energy from a battery (storage energy) to create something new that we call Blended Energy.

The property investor then sells this blended energy and makes a return for their efforts. Obviously the tenants benefit from this arrangement.

Many types of electricity

There are many “types” of electricity, power or energy. And many ways to measure these types of energy. Matter supports all types in its extensive product range.

There is grid energy, solar energy and Blended Energy.

Grid energy is purchased from the utility and is metered by a service connection meter known as a gate meter. This gate meter is very expensive and is carefully managed and regulated. Grid electricity is dirty, poor quality, intermittent, expensive and in reality a commodity – just like sugar, salt or water. Sure we need it but grid electricity is the same (except for price) from all grid retailers – it is indistinguishable from each other. 

Solar energy is sourced from an embedded solar PV system and is metered by Matters technology. The property investor can sell this electricity legally. Its clean, always delivers when the sun is shining. Its much cheaper and its origins are that it was once DC electricity and converted to AC electricity. So its very different.

Blended electricity, or Blended Bnergy is grid energy and solar energy blended.  Blended Energy is a resource that is manufactured by the property investor’s plant that can be sold like solar energy.

Blended energy aint grid energy

Blended Energy while to the user doesn’t seem different it is a very different type of resource because it isn’t solely from the grid. A good analogy is if you had potable fresh clean water (solar energy) and dirty water ( grid energy) when you blend the two you end up with grey water (blended energy).

Blended Energy is part of a better type of electricity family called  Digital Electricity which is clean, high quality, always available when you have storage and cheaper than that commoditised utility electricity you get from the grid from the retailers. Digital electricity will continue to operate when a storm hits, it won’t damage your expensive electrical equipment because voltage is higher or very low than it should be, its clean and doesn’t rely on coal plants and its much cheaper than utility grid power. It is intelligent and works seamlessly with the business or consumers’ lifestyle at home. And Digital Electricity is controllable.

How Matter handles Dual Occupancy

In a dual-occupancy tenants are charged for a premium energy product – Blended Energy – using Matter’s innovative energy plan based on a “pay as you go” energy plan.

So renters only pay for Blended Energy that they consume which worked out using Matter’s very accurate smart meters that measure this new Blended Energy. Matter’s innovative technology that works out what portion of the Blended Energy is from the grid and what portion of the Blended Energy is from solar being manufactured from the dual-occupancy’s roof. Each tenant in the dual-occupancy receives a bill as part of the Matter service. Each Dual-Occupancy bill breaks down how the charges are arrived at. Tenants are able to also see how much they saved by using Blended Energy.

The Blended Energy Plan uses a ‘piggy-back’ ToU (time of use) rate for the grid energy portion of the Blended Energy and flat rate for the solar energy proportion of the Blended Energy. The flat rate is normally priced at 20% less than what a tenant would pay from the utility for daytime power, so the tenant wins. For the Landlord Matter works out what the pricing structure (the Blended Energy Plan) for the ‘Solar for Dual Occupancy’ should be – and Matter also negotiates this with the tenant. This ensures that the dual-occupancy property investor can cover cost of the grid energy and make a good return for the solar energy part of the Blended Energy. The idea is not to make money from the grid energy portion, but not to loose money on the grid-portion as well.

In a dual occupancy the feed-in credit from the utility could be shared on a pro-rata basis or can be allocated to one particular tenant, or it can be allocated all to the property investor. In Victoria this can be 11.3 cents per kWh whereas in other states it can be as little as 5 cents/kWh. Since the property investor has the utility bill in their name the feed-in credit is typically not taken into account for the tenants and this feed-in revenue goes straight to the property investor as well.

While Feed-in further boosts income for Solar Energy not consumed at the Dual-Occupancies. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the main reason why property investors install a ‘Solar for Dual-Occupancy’ system. As a rough guide ‘Solar for Dual-Occupancy’ costs the property investor 5.6 cents / kWh to generate solar energy and typically tenants pay more than 28.5 cents per kWh for daytime power from the grid – some utilities charge more in some places like Adelaide tenants can pay 35 cents per kWh.

Why Matter invented Blended Energy

Matter created the innovation Blended Energy for dual- and multi- occupancy in mind. In a dual occupancy situation to save on electrical wiring and buying extra expensive meters the solar power is automatically charged to each tenant based on pro-rata usage based on the their measured portion of the Blended Energy and solar and grid proportions, it is a very accurate, fair and cost effective way to charge tenants for this Blended Energy.

Matter uses innovative smart meters for measuring Blended Energy that are accurate and but less expensive than utility grid meters. This avoids the property investor in dual occupancies running separate solar electricity wiring to each tenancy, and metering them individually. It’s a very clever practical way to bill dual-occupancy tenants for solar power that is mixed with grid energy that becomes Blended Energy.

Wiring Considerations for dual occupancy

Sometimes the power distribution board needs to be rationalised for dual occupancy. Ideally each occupancy should have their own sub-distribution board feed from the main board.

It can be a false economy for a property investor to avoid rationalising their distribution boards when developing a dual-occupancy (obviously not doing a new build).

Where the circuits are not rationalised then each circuit requires seperate monitoring and this can be become quite expensive.

It is best practice and good advice for the property investor to rationalise the main distribution board to segregate circuits for each dwelling in a dual occupancy. Later if the property investor wishes to sell one property it is a simple exercise to install a grid meter to seperate one dwelling from the other.

Shared things in Dual Occupancy

Matter can accomodate shared resources in a dual occupancy for blended energy used for common areas, like car parks or lifts. Even plants like hot water systems, evaporative coolers or air conditioning can be shared between the tenancies using an agreed approach.

Shared things require our experts to do a bit of solutioning on the best way to accomodate this.

This works well under a strata scheme.

Matter kits for Dual Occupancy

Matter offers two variant packages (SKUs)  for dual-occupancy:-

  1. Dual-Occ-A
  2. Dual-Occ-B

The Dual-Occ Variant A is used for sites where there is only one circuit going to one dwelling from which all energy is used for power and lighting.

The Dual-Occ Variant B is used for sites where each tenancy has a collection of circuits. This variant supports solar, gate and up to 2 circuits per tenancy.

Contact your Matter Expert to walk you through the best option for you

 

Summary

With the ever-increasing price of land, it can make a lot of sense for property investors to capitalize on the land value by developing a dual occupancy, done right – it’s a good way to increase equity.

‘Dual-Occs’ with Matter’s ‘Solar for Dual Occupancy‘ provides quad-income that accelerates becoming cash flow positive. For property investors this in turn speeds up building a property portfolio.

Usually dual occupancy properties can get rental yields that are higher than what a suburb would typically deliver for traditional rentals. Also buying a property that is suitable for dual occupancy can also be a way for first time homebuyers to get their foot onto the property ladder.

The most obvious way to boost income for dual-occupancy is why wouldn’t you use the roof-space of both dwellings to generate more cash flow and increase value.

The property investor can now take advantage of rising energy prices and do something positive about the energy crisis for the tenant and their investment portfolio and pocket.

You use one property for dual rental income why not use one solar for two more incomes. One property, four incomes.

Matter is the investor of ‘Solar for Dual-Occupancy’ . We know this inside out.

 

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