Water Upgrades $ave

BayREN’s Water Upgrades Save program helps homeowners and single-family renters install water and energy efficient upgrades — like high-efficiency toilets, showerheads, and aerators.

Population growth, a housing shortage, and the climate crisis are posing significant new challenges for local governments.

From 2012 to 2016, California experienced its worst drought in 600 years and in 2018 the largest wildfire in state history. Meanwhile, pumping, treating, and heating water comprised 20 percent of electricity and 30 percent of natural gas demand in California.

The pressure on our water, energy, and infrastructure is growing.

BayREN Water Upgrades $ave offers a new solution for local governments that enables:

  • Water customers to reduce their water and sewer costs
  • Water utilities to manage existing demand and minimize new supply and infrastruc­ture costs
  • Local governments to ensure all citizens have access to no‑upfront‑cost efficiency services.

The regional program is led by the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority in partnership with the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to help local governments fulfill the state goal to “make water conservation a California way of life.”

In 2021, the Program began providing turn-key services to help partner utilities meet new state and local water efficiency goals, reach local difficult-to-serve customers (e.g., low- and moderate-income property owners and renters), and produce water and energy savings on the customer side of the meter.

Innovative Financing Service

Based on the Pay-As-You-Save® model piloted by the Town of Windsor, City of Hayward, and East Bay Municipal Utility District, the regional Program makes the following customer offer:

“Install eligible water efficiency measures with no up-front cost ― using a monthly on‑bill charge that is significantly lower than the estimated savings ― and begin saving right away.”

Participating customers can save money and meet new code and water-use regulations with no risk or hassle with these program assurances:

  • No up-front payment, no debt obligation, or liens.
  • Estimated savings exceeding by at least 25 percent a utility-approved monthly on-bill charge.
  • Repayment required only while they are a utility customer at the project location.
  • A guarantee that failed improvements are repaired or the efficiency charge is terminated.

Water Upgrades $ave offers indoor and outdoor efficiency improvements that comply with state conservation requirements and have been field tested since 2012 by its three Program pilots — Windsor Efficiency PAYS®, Green Hayward PAYS®, and East Bay Municipal Utility District’s WaterSmart On-Bill Financing Program — with multifamily, single family, and commercial customers. As of December 2019, Program pilots completed 584 multi-family and 247 single family projects ― reducing multifamily water use by 30 percent and single family water use by 20 percent, on average.

How the Program Works

In coordination with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), ABAG provides funding for the program financing service. ABAG’s BayREN division and RCPA work with partner utilities to enroll eligible customers. The Program Operator qualifies projects and sends work orders to approved Program Contractors for final project scoping, installation, and close out. The Program Operator also runs the Program on behalf of the partner utility and its customers, providing oversight of sales and mar­ket­ing, contractors, and project quality assurance, and quality control.

Participating customers repay project costs over time through a utility-approved on‑bill charge on that meter location’s water bill. The charge stops at the end of the financing term or if the equipment fails and cannot be repaired. If the water utility customer moves from the location, the new water customer automatically assumes both the continued savings and remaining on-bill charge.