The PACE Financing Tool that Puts Solar on Your Roof Can Also Save You Water

water sprinklerWe’ve long been big fans of PACE financing as an easy way to motivate homeowners to put solar on their roofs. Property assessed clean energy, as we wrote last month, is a simple way to add the cost of a home solar system to a parcel’s property tax, with payments spread out over 20 years and none of the heartwrenching concern about what happens with your solar lease when you try to sell.

PACE is great, simply put. And now, the most successful PACE financing outfit in the U.S. is pushing another, less well-known aspect of PACE financing: water efficiency.

The HERO Program, which is already the biggest PACE financer in California with more than $250 million worth of projects financed, is reminding the world that you can also use HERO financing and PACE financing for water-efficiency projects.

This is a critically important endeavor in California, which is in the midst of an unprecedented (literally) drought. HERO — which stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity — can help homeowners finance a number of water-efficiency projects, including high efficiency toilets, faucets and shower heads, drip irrigation systems, rainwater catchment systems, gray water systems and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Already to date, HERO estimates that the $2.2 million in financing it has provided to water-efficiency projects has saved about 100 million gallons of water — and that number will only increase as the products are continually in use.

“The HERO Program enables homeowners to replace products in the home that consume a high amount of water with products that consume significantly less water,” Sue Frost, the vice mayor of Citrus Heights, Calif., said in a statement. “By using less water, homeowners save money, which is then used to repay the investment they have made to their homes. In fact, with fines looming and water prices threatening to rise, investing in water-smart landscaping and water efficient products in the home will likely save our residents money in short order.”

Because the HERO Program has been so successful in clean-energy financing — it is the financer for PACE programs in 169 California counties — its water-efficiency funding is available to 5 million households in the Golden State. And if just 1 percent of those homes signed on to cut their water use, HERO estimates it could save 2.5 billion gallons per year. Given that the average California home uses about 280,000 gallons of water per year, that is the equivalent of canceling out the water used by more than 8,900 households per year.

So while our primary focus has always been on home solar installations, now there’s a reason — in California in particular but really everywhere with PACE financing — to tack on the cost of a couple of dual-flush toilets and drip irrigation systems to your PACE bill.

Lawn sprinkler photo CC-licensed by echobase_2000 on Flickr.

Matthew Wheeland
Author: Matthew Wheeland

Matthew Wheeland is the editor of He has been an environmental journalist for nearly 15 years, covering everything from farming to green chemistry to corporate sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @MattWheeland.

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