By Maddy PUMILIA
Summer has come and along with a rise in temperatures, residents many times find a rise in utility costs. But money can be saved by conserving water and becoming more energy efficient.
The Foothill Municipal Water District is offering rebates for high efficiency toilets, turf removal programs and rain barrels to conserve water and become less dependent on the importation of water. Anyone who receives water from FMWD is eligible (this includes La Cañada, Crescenta Valley and Altadena residents).
“I think it’s a great program,” said FMWD General Manager Nina Jazmadarian. “It helps with conservation and it’s better for our reliability and there’s less importation. It costs less because we are not buying expensive water. And it’s better for our environment.”
Less importation would save the district money. “Water bills would probably not go up as quickly or as much,” Jazmadarian said.
The program seems to be popular, added Jazmadarian, as 190 customers took advantage of the rebates last year with $43,000 being allocated for rebates this year. Since this program started on July 1, she estimates that most of the money is still available. The program will last until the money runs out or until June 30, 2012 for the rain barrels and April 30, 2012 for the turf and toilets.
“It depends which happens first,” Jazmadarian said.
Residents that replace old toilets with high efficiency ones (toilets that have a capacity of 1.28 gallons or less per flush) are eligible to receive a $50 rebate. A list of the eligible toilets is located on the FMWD website: http://www.fmwd.com/Conservation.aspx.
“Customers should look at the list before buying a toilet,” advised Jazmadarian.
Additionally, up to $800 in rebates are available to foothill residents if they replace their lawns with California Friendly plants, drought tolerant plants, mulch or pervious hardscape.
Customers are also eligible for a rebate of 50% of the cost of a rain barrel up to $100 for up to eight barrels. The cost of the rain barrel depends on where it is purchased and how big the barrel is. They are available at nursery stores, Costco and online.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the district that FMWD imports some of its water from, is offering rebates for high efficiency clothes washers (up to $85), a weather-based irrigation controller (for less than one acre: $80 or for more than one acre: $25 per station) and rotating sprinkler nozzles ($3 per nozzle, minimum of 25 nozzles).
Water is not the only way to conserve – and save money. Energy Upgrade California is a statewide energy efficient rebate program. The goal of the program is to encourage homeowners to outfit their entire home for optimum energy efficiency. The rebates and incentives cover insulation, sealing, HVAC upgrades, energy-efficient windows, tankless water heaters and other “fixed” improvements. Between now and Labor Day, Energy Upgrade California, in conjunction with utilities companies, are offering up to $6,000 in rebates. The amount in rebates correlates to how much energy the homeowner saves. For example, if a homeowner increases his or her energy efficiency by 30%, they would get $3,500 from the utilities company and $2,000 from Los Angeles County. L.A. County gives $2,000 to any homeowner who makes their house 20% more efficient. The bigger the job, the bigger the rebate.
“[The program is] intended to help homeowners make upgrades or improvements that will increase energy efficiency by giving them rebates,” said Melinda Barrett, Public Relations manager for the County of Los Angeles, Office of Sustainability and spokesperson for Energy Upgrade California in Los Angeles.
For example, Barrett said, if a homeowner is planning on replacing the air conditioning unit in their home, they might as well do it while the rebate is available. By adding better insulation, the homeowner would experience lower energy bills in the future and also be able to purchase a less expensive air conditioning unit.
Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas customers – which include La Cañada and La Crescenta residents – are eligible for the rebates. Glendale residents that are customers of Glendale Water & Power are currently not eligible, but will probably be in a month or two.
“Summer is a really good time to do this work,” Barrett said. “If you are making upgrades anyway, now’s a great time to do it.”