Water Upgrades Save

BayREN Water Upgrades Save helps homeowners and renters install water and energy efficient upgrades — like high-efficiency toilets, showerheads, and aerators ― with little-to-no upfront cost and immediate bill savings.

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

As the current multi-year megadrought continues, California faces challenges posed by reduced water supply, wildfire risk, and water-related greenhouse gas emissions (for example, pumping, treating, and heating water comprise 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 Save 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 affordable efficiency services.

Utilities Learn More: https://www.bayren.org/waterupgradessave_utility

Customers Learn More: https://www.bayren.org/waterupgradessave

Water Upgrades Save is a turnkey water efficiency program for Bay Area municipal water utilities that enables water utility customers to install water and energy efficient upgrades with little-to-no upfront cost — using a monthly utility-approved on-bill charge that is significantly lower than the estimated savings ― so customers being saving right away.

Participating customers can lower their utility bills; install upgrades that meet new building and water-use code; and save money, water, and energy — with these program assurances:

  • Save more than you pay.
  • Little-to-no upfront cost.
  • No new debt, no credit check, no lien.
  • Repayment required only while customer resides at project location.

A guarantee that failed upgrades are repaired or the on-bill charge ends.

Program Partners

The regional Program is managed 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 invest in indoor and outdoor efficiency upgrades for single-family, multifamily, and commercial customers and contribute to the state goal to “make water conservation a California way of life.”

Regional utility enrollment for the Program’s turnkey finance-installation service began in 2021. The City of Sebastopol launched customer services in May 2021 and the City of Cloverdale launched services in April 2022. Utility recruitment is ongoing.

How the Program Works

In coordination with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), ABAG supplies capital 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 schedules installations with approved Program Contractors. The Program Operator delivers Partner Utilities with a turnkey program service 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.

The regional program has been field tested since 2012 by the three pilots — Windsor Efficiency PAYS®, Green Hayward PAYS®, and East Bay Municipal Utility District’s WaterSmart On-Bill Financing Program. As of December 2019, these 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.