Want to save water and make some money in the process? Take advantage of local retrofit and rebate programs.
Most cities in San Luis Obispo County have programs to pay individual households to become more water efficient. Here's a quick look at the most common rebate programs locally.
Cash for grass
Many cities pay homeowners to remove lawns.
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Arroyo Grande will pay up to $5,000 for the removal of 5,000 square feet or more of grass.
The city also offers to install smart irrigation controllers and sensors at no charge to homeowners. The systems conserve water and reduce runoff by automating landscape watering based on weather, site conditions and plants’ water needs.
Grover Beach has received 22 requests for Cash for Grass rebates and approved 20 since August 2014.
In Atascadero, which offers a rebate program, 206 lawns have been removed since 2009 — totaling 301,040 square feet — at a cost of $66,760.
As part of Paso Robles' landscape rebate program, 576 rebates have been issued since July 2011, converting an estimated 594,314 square feet of lawn at a cost of $220,561.
Water-efficient washing machines
More than 20 percent of all water consumed in a typical home is used by the washing machine. Running an older washing machine can use more than 50 gallons of water per cycle and installing a high-efficiency model can cut that use in half.
Bryan Idler, a manager at Idler’s Home in San Luis Obispo, said sales of high-efficiency washing machines began increasing about five years ago.
In the past three years, the store has sold about 5,000 units, he said, with 85 percent being high efficiency or Energy Star-rated machines.
The standard, top-loading washing machine that a consumer could purchase a decade ago used about 40 to 50 gallons of water per load, he said.
“Now, a high-efficiency machine will use half that and some front loaders will use a third, maybe 12-15 gallons (per load), which is amazing,” Idler said.
The city of Arroyo Grande will pay a rebate of $200 to households that install a water-efficient washer. Since December 2008, the city has issued 119 rebates.
Atascadero Mutual Water Co., which serves the city and some unincorporated areas, offers rebates of $50 to $75 for high-efficiency washers or toilets.
Since 1994, it has issued 3,569 rebates for low-flow or high-efficiency toilets and washers at a cost of $369,413.
The city of Pismo Beach will pay up to $100 to replace an older toilet that uses 3.5 gallons or more per flush with one that uses 1.28 gallons or less.
Grover Beach has had a toilet retrofit program for years. Since July 2013, the city has processed 775 requests for low-flow toilets and 354 installations have taken place with the remainder still to be installed.
In Paso Robles, 206 rebates to replace water-wasting toilets with 310 high-efficiency models have been issued, Alakel said (some rebates covered two toilets).
Rainwater collection systems
These systems collect rooftop rainwater and directs it through gutters into storage tanks. Bill Seavey, a Cambria homeowner, said the most important conservation step a homeowner can take is to install a rainwater system.
It can be as simple as placing trash cans beneath gutter downspouts. His system can hold a little more than 2,000 gallons.
“For a couple of hundred dollars you can harvest rain off your roof and use it to water your garden,” he said. “I manage to keep my place very green by only using rainwater.”
Rebates of as much as $999 are now available in San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande and Nipomo from the San Luis Coastal Resource Conservation District for installing a storm-water system. The deadline for applying is May 28. For more information, go to https://stormrewards.org.
These systems also reduce pollution that runs into creeks and other waterways.
More ways to save
Here's where to find more information about water conservation programs and rebates in your community:
- Arroyo Grande: http://www.arroyogrande.org/148/Water-Conservation