Commercial Water Incentives and Rebates

Before you start upgrading your water infrastructure, it’s worth looking into the rebates and incentives your facility may be eligible for.

Your utility provider might offer them directly, or your city or region may have some sort of partnership program to incentivize water-saving improvements. Apana even has a database of commercial water incentives, water conservation programs, evaporative (sewer) credit programs, and commercial irrigation programs, with data from over 300 cities.

Some projects—like retrofitting a refrigeration unit or making your cooling tower more efficient—could generate significant savings, but carry steep upfront costs. If these projects are eligible for a rebate, however, you could potentially recover up to 50 percent of that cost. And that means your investment in more efficient equipment will pay for itself much faster.

Through rebate programs, some organizations have received rebates of more than $100,000 for major water-saving projects. Whether an upgrade will save you thousands of gallons of water or millions of gallons, you should explore the rebate options available.

Here’s what you should know about commercial water rebates.

What improvements can your facility receive water rebates for?

Water rebate programs can cover a wide variety of water-related improvements, from installing WaterSense fixtures to retrofitting major industrial equipment or investing in water-saving technology. The eligibility requirements vary from program to program, but the
types of improvements you can receive water rebates for generally fall into one of these categories.

Retrofitting industrial equipment

Even when you purchase equipment that falls within water-efficiency specifications, there are often improvements you can make that dramatically reduce water waste. Industrial equipment that uses single-pass cooling (such as refrigeration units) can often be modified to recirculate water. Hospitals, medical providers, and labs may be eligible for rebates to upgrade steam sterilizers, autoclaves, or other medical equipment that uses water. You may be able to convert some pieces of equipment to air-cooled systems, eliminating major water use altogether. Adding waste-reducing improvements to your cooling towers could be eligible as well.

Replacing inefficient fixtures and machines

The more toilets, urinals, and other fixtures or your facility has, the more water you can save by upgrading to even slightly more efficient models. Facilities that have equipment like commercial dishwashers, ice machines, food steamers, and washing machines can often receive rebates for purchasing newer models as well.

Implementing water-saving technology

Depending on your industry and facility, water-saving technology may be eligible for rebates and incentives. For example, programs may offer rebates for agricultural facilities that invest in tech that reduces irrigation-related water consumption, such as a smart irrigation system.

Monitoring water usage

Some industrial processes (such as evaporative cooling) return water to the atmosphere instead of draining it down the sewers. Sewer fees are typically based on how much water your facility uses, but if you can track and catalog how much water is going to your cooling tower, for example, your provider may have a sewer rebate program you can take advantage of.

Commercial water rebate and incentive types

Every utility provider or municipality is going to have its own water rebate system, but there are a few common ways they distribute them to facilities.

Flat rebates

Purchasing more efficient fixtures like WaterSense toilets or improved machinery like dishwashers may earn you a flat rebate, where the program simply gives you a set amount for the improvement. For example, Miami offers businesses rebates of $50 per unit for the installation of WaterSense certified toilets.

Project-based rebates

The biggest water rebates your facility can receive are for custom projects that improve the efficiency of large-scale operations. For example, Seattle offers to rebate up to 50 percent of some large system improvements.

Conservation-based rebates and incentives

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission offers rebates based on how much water your improvements actually save. Projects have to save a minimum of 200 centum cubic feet (ccf) of water (which translates to 149,000 gallons) in order to be eligible. The rebate is based on an estimate of water savings, and gives facilities $1.00 per ccf saved over the next 10 years—up to 50 percent of the project’s cost. Large-scale projects can easily save thousands of dollars. University of California San Francisco received a $117,804 rebate for a project that was projected to save 88 million gallons over the next ten years

How should you prioritize improvements?

If you’re going to allocate some of your budget toward improving your water infrastructure, you want to choose the projects and replacements that will have the biggest impact on your bottom line. You may want to start by conducting a water audit to understand how your facility uses water and identify the greatest opportunities for improvement. You may want to consider the true cost of water as well, and think about how saving water saves energy. A rebate can help ease the burden of your upfront costs, but looking beyond the gallons you save and understanding the relationship between water and energy could impact which projects will pay off fastest.

Apana’s water efficiency as a service helps you identify water waste, recognize areas that could be more efficient, and detect problems before they show up on your water bill. We save our clients thousands of dollars in compliance fines and prevent costly disasters. And our platform pays for itself in less than 24 months in many installations.

Here’s how it works.

Talk to an expert to see how we can help your operation save water and money.