A much needed study on water rebates and their effectiveness.
A first ever long-term rebate study, based on the ten-year history of rebate programs in the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico, analyzes the costs and benefits of rebates and their effectiveness in reducing water consumption is now available – A Review of the City of Santa Fe Water Conservation Rebate Program.
With an extended drought in the west and water supply challenges in many parts of the country, communities are taking steps to control and reduce water consumption. Like many other communities, the City of Santa Fe provides water conservation rebates to encourage the installation of water-efficient devices and technologies.
From 2003 through 2013, the city awarded more than 8,500 water conservation rebates, with projected water savings of more than 400 million gallons, and with direct city rebate expenditures less than the cost to produce the equivalent amount of water.
The study investigates such factors such as rebate amount in relation to device purchase price city and customer payback, installation effort, and amount of water savings. It recommends a set of best practices for local municipalities to consider when building a water conservation rebate program.
The study found that rebate amounts determined solely on city payout from projected water savings may be insufficient to generate customer interest. Rebate amounts, to be of interest to most customers, should be sufficient to defray a significant portion of the purchase price. Rebate amounts sufficient to generate customer interest are more a concrete expression of a city’s commitment to water conservation than a means of recouping city rebate expenditures with water savings.
Rebate programs should be structured so that they are of economic interest to single-family and multifamily residential and commercial users. Particularly, rebates should be structured so that there is an economic incentive to install water efficient devices in multi-family dwellings. Rebates should also provide economic incentives to commercial customers who may be somewhat more interested in long-term payback from water savings than in low net purchase price.
The report was prepared by two members of the City of Santa Fe Water Conservation Committee, Doug Pushard and Tim Michael, in partnership with representatives of the city’s water division. The full study can be found at: Santa Fe Rebate Analysis