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Posts Tagged ‘rebates’

by Christina Mountanos

It’s both remarkable and worrisome that the local forecast is still filled to the brim with sunshine. With 2013 earning the title of driest year in MMWD’s recorded history, and no end in sight, everyone I know is at least a little on-edge. Veterans of the 1976-77 drought have been busy tightening their belts, and our phones have been abuzz with customers expressing their concerns. One thing’s for sure, the time for everyone to do their part is now! Where can you begin? If you’re on a limited budget, a new homeowner, or just don’t know where to start, the following list can help! Check out some of the most popular, and effective, ways to save:

1. Check for leaks and repair them immediately. One in three of our customers have leaks and don’t even realize it. Don’t become part of the statistic! Check your home for leaky toilets and dripping fixtures. Many repairs are simple, inexpensive, and can reduce your indoor water usage by nearly 15 percent. Need some guidance? Read our fun, informative instructions on “How to Be a Leak Detective” to get started.

2. Turn off your automatic sprinkler system and water plants only as needed. Switching your irrigation timer to the “off” position is an easy, no-cost way to save water. Rest assured that despite the dry weather conditions, plants need about 80 percent less water this time of year than they do in the summer months. Keep an eye on your garden and only water periodically, if plants are showing signs of stress. Once spring rolls around, let us help you decide when it’s right to turn things back on. Sign up for our online Weekly Watering Schedule and receive weekly e-mails with guidelines on how much to water.

3. Check your water pressure and install pressure-compensating faucet aerators and showerheads. High water pressure in your home can cause faucets and showerheads to use more water, so it’s important to know what you have. Sixty pounds per square inches is just right for most homes, but check with a plumber to be sure. Also consider installing pressure-compensating showerheads and faucet aerators. Installing a two-gallon-per-minute showerhead can save up to 2,900 gallons annually. Putting in new aerators on your bathroom and kitchen faucets can save 700 gallons more.

4. Check your water meter. Take charge of your water usage by learning to read your meter and doing some simple math. It’s just as easy as reading the odometer in your car and only takes a few minutes. Taking weekly readings will help you spot any unusual usage, catch leaks, and avoid surprises on your bill. Use the handy form we have available online to record your readings or download a smart-phone application to store it for you!

5. Participate in MMWD’s free conservation programs. Very few things in this world are free. Fortunately, one thing you can still get is a water use survey with one of our conservation specialists. Let us help you identify ways to save water in your home (indoors and out) and provide you with complimentary showerheads and aerators (as needed, of course). Call our Conservation Assistance Program hotline at (415) 945-1523 to set up an appointment.

6. Install high-efficiency WaterSense-labeled toilets. Toilets are responsible for nearly 30 percent of our indoor water usage. That’s why, time-and-time-again, replacing old, inefficient models tops the list of ways to save. Purchase a new high-efficiency toilet (HET) and save 20-60 percent per flush, for a significant reduction of 13,000 gallons annually. Consider dual-flush to further your savings, check map-testing.com to get your hands on cold, hard facts about performance, and go to our website for rebate information on qualifying models so you can get paid to save! Toilets save water year-round, and you’ll find them in price ranges made for everyone.

7. Install a high-efficiency clothes washer. Second only to toilets are the workhorses we call clothes washers. You can put your old 30-40 gallon clunker to shame by purchasing a new high-efficiency model that uses 18 gallons or less. Take advantage of our current rebate program to save water, energy, and money.

8. Install a WaterSense-labeled smart irrigation controller. Purchase a new “smart” controller and never forget to reduce your watering schedule again! The EPA estimates these controllers—which take their cues from real-time weather conditions—can save the average family 8,800 gallons annually. Schedule a pre-inspection with one of our conservation specialists, then take advantage of MMWD’s rebate for $20 per active station. Smart controllers are made by a variety of manufacturers and, like toilets, are available in a range of prices.

9. Add compost and mulch. Amend, amend, amend your soil. Gets your hands on some organic compost, or make your own! The benefits are overwhelming. Feeding your soil with compost nourishes plants, helps with aeration, resolves compaction issues, prevents runoff, and helps retain moisture. Since plants residing in amended soils fare better in drought conditions, twice a year spread two to four inches of compost over the top or your soil, then dig it into the top six to 12 inches. Follow-up with two to four inches of mulch and get ready to help make whatever moisture we receive this rainy season last!

10. Make your garden water-smart. Upgrade your irrigation system by converting some of your spray systems to drip irrigation. Or, improve the efficiency of your current sprinklers by changing them to high-efficiency rotor-type nozzles. Rotors can fit into existing spray bodies and use one-third less water. By putting out water in small, finger-like streams, they water slowly, more evenly, and reduce water loss due to evaporation and runoff. While you’re at it, consider removing some of your turf grass. A small-sized area of turf, with a spray system operating at ten gallons per minute, can easily use 100 gallons per day, 300 per week, and 15,600 annually! Replacing your lawn with native, low-water use plants is a great way to conserve water and save money. Check out the links on our “Water-Wise Plants” page to find some gorgeous inspirations.

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by Craig Lauridsen

As you probably already know, 2013 was a dry year. With a total of 10.68 inches for the calendar year, 2013 set a new record low for rainfall in Marin. The previous low was 19 inches back in 1929. So a logical question would be: If the rain is not watering my plants, how much do I need to irrigate? MMWD’s website currently states:

Please turn off your irrigation system for the season. If dry weather continues, check newly planted, container and high-water-use plants for stress and water if needed. Note that, even without rain, most plants require little water this time of year.

I would like to add a personal touch to this statement. My backyard has a small, 500-square-foot patch of 90/10 tall fescue. We get a lot of use out of this lawn: I have a black lab that loves to play fetch, and my 14-month-old toddler is quickly learning that it’s less painful to fall on grass than on the patio. Even though grass is among the highest water-use plants, usually our rains provide all the winter irrigation a lawn needs. This year, though, I started to get concerned when one dry day followed the next. However, as a water conservation specialist, my training and experience told me it’s not that low rainfall equals thirsty plants but that low evapotranspiration (ET) equals plants that aren’t very thirsty. ET is the loss of water to the atmosphere by the combined processes of evaporation (from soil and plant surfaces) and transpiration (from plant tissues). It is a good indicator of how much water your lawn, garden, and trees need to stay healthy—and in winter it tends to be pretty low.

The California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) pulls data from over 120 automated weather stations throughout California and has been around for over 30 years. MMWD uses CIMIS data from the weather stations within our service area to create the Weekly Watering Schedule. CIMIS uses many variables to help users determine how much to water:

  • precipitation
  • solar radiation
  • vapor pressure
  • air temperature
  • relative humidity
  • dew point
  • wind speed
  • soil temperature
Craig's lawn

Even with almost no irrigation this winter, Craig’s lawn is still healthy and happy.

According to 2013 data from the Marin weather stations—and despite less than two inches of rain during December—plants needed about 80 percent less irrigation in December than during the average summer month. This information allowed me to comfortably decide to water my lawn only one day in the month of December.

I also have several other plants (lavender, rosemary, heavenly bamboo, breath of heaven, lantana, various grasses, etc.) that received zero irrigation in the month of December, all of which are doing just fine. I also have rosemary in a pot on my front porch that gets plenty of afternoon sun and starts to brown if I don’t water it one to two days per week in the summer; however, it was completely happy with only one watering in December. My brother used a few sprigs of this plant to prepare his famous garlic rosemary mashed potatoes that received lots of positive attention during our Christmas dinner.

Different species of plants handle dry and/or freezing conditions differently, so it’s important to learn about your own plants. But my earlier point still stands and is worth repeating: It’s not that low rainfall equals thirsty plants but that low evapotranspiration (ET) equals plants that aren’t very thirsty.

Another thing you can do to help manage your landscape water use is to replace your standard irrigation controller with a smart irrigation controller. MMWD is offering rebates for smart controllers, toilets, and clothes washers. Visit the rebate section of our website for more information.

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by Charlene Burgi

The saying “Timing is everything” couldn’t hold truer than at this moment regarding water conservation. Incoming news from Marin is giving us time to plan.

A few days before Christmas an email came to my inbox stating that the MMWD Board of Directors passed a resolution calling on customers to conserve water due to the record-breaking low rainfall we have experienced in the past year.

To further drive this point home, Wendy, a dear friend from the Water Conservation Department, shared Christmas with us. Upon her arrival, she showed us the Marin IJ, which carried a front page story about the extremely dry conditions.

The article reported statistics that shocked me. I read that less than 11 inches of rain fell in Marin in 2013. That is eight fewer inches than the recorded low from 1929—less on a calendar year basis than the debilitating drought we remember so well in the ‘70s!

This news gave me pause for thought. We have time to cinch our belts now and check our conservation practices at home as well as at work. Good times often make us more lax in our practices and habits—conserving water is no exception! Perhaps it is time to reassess our daily routine.

There is time right now to check for dripping faucets that may have been placed on a back burner. Repair them with proper washers or replace the culprit if it is beyond repair. Did a water survey reveal a leaking toilet that needs a flapper replacement? Did that chore get put off until the proverbial tomorrow? Has the irrigation controller been upgraded to a smart controller, or is it still programmed by the “by guess, by golly” method? Is the soil amended so irrigation water soaks into the root zone, or does the heavy clay cause the water to run off? Are the planting beds heavily mulched to inhibit evaporation? Drip systems need to be checked for missing emitters, spray heads require visual analysis to determine if the spray is targeting the intended area and didn’t vibrate into the street or sidewalk.

Smart irrigation controllers

MMWD is offering rebates on smart irrigation controllers and more. Visit marinwater.org/rebates for details. (Photo by Richard Wheeler)

The water district can help you with your conservation efforts in several ways. If you have never had a water survey, call to have one of MMWD’s specialists visit your home, check for leaks and offer suggestions for how to conserve. While there, the specialist can talk to you about rebate programs that could save you money toward the purchase of a new high-efficiency toilet (or two), washing machine and smart controller.

Timing is everything. The water we save right now means that much more water in our reservoirs for that much longer. New ideas, new habits and renewed practices put into action now also will give time for a seamless transition if the dry weather persists and we must move from voluntary to mandatory use reduction.

And what better time to start or renew good practices! We are always thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Let conservation be at the top of your list.

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by Robin McKillop

shopping for a high-efficiency clothes washer

Shopping for a high-efficiency clothes washer (photo by Richard Wheeler)

Buy a qualifying high-efficiency clothes washer and get $50 from MMWD, plus another $50 from PG&E. You’ll enjoy a total savings of $100 immediately—and water and energy savings over the life of your washer. Models that qualify for these rebates are the most efficient washers on the market today. They use at least 60 percent less water and 50 percent less energy than washers that simply meet federal standards. Some models use as little as 12 gallons of water per load of laundry. At this rate the savings can really pile up!

For information about MMWD’s clothes washer rebate program visit marinwater.org/rebates.

For information about PG&E’s clothes washer rebate, click here (then scroll down for rebate information).

The MMWD and PG&E rebate programs are administered independently. Please check with PG&E for complete information about their rebate program.

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by Dan Carney

Water has a knack for quietly leaking 24-hours-a-day out of even the smallest cracks and crevices. In fact, it’s so good at finding ways to hide that one-third of all properties in Marin have water leaks. MMWD staff perform thousands of free Conservation Assistance Program (CAP) surveys at homes and businesses every year and discover leaking toilets, sprinkler lines and valves that sometimes account for 25 percent or more of the water used at the site—that’s a lot of wasted water and money!

MMWD Rebates: Get Paid to SaveIf you think it’s time for a free CAP survey to check for leaks, give us a call on the CAP hotline at 945-1523 and we’ll be glad to set up an appointment and meet with you at your property. As an extra bonus, MMWD has rebate dollars available for customers to replace leaky old toilets, water-guzzling clothes washers and out-of-control irrigation controllers. Visit the rebate website at marinwater.org/rebates or give conservation staff a call at 945-1527. Rebate dollars are limited, so get yours today!

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by Charlene Burgi

My daughter Lynette called me this week during her lunchtime walk. She informed me it was currently a balmy 80 degrees in Petaluma. While she spoke, I clenched my jaw to prevent my teeth from chattering as I gazed out the window to overcast skies and noted the outdoor thermometer registered a high of 44 degrees.

pumpkin after freeze

After the freeze … a.k.a. pumpkin pie coming soon

How could the weather be THAT different 300 miles away? I thought about last week’s blog mentioning fall color, and then realized you are still wearing summer clothing and sipping iced tea while tending your summer gardens! Plants are still growing and requiring irrigation. New garden designs are still on your minds as I am buttoning down the greenhouse and thinking about soups to cook and canning, freezing or dehydrating what little is left from the garden while donning woolies.

Lynette’s weather report reminded me that fire season is still a primary concern in Marin. We tend to relax our efforts in the garden during this time of year and turn our attention toward other activities that stretch our summers out just a wee bit longer. Red Flag Warnings may be met without a passing thought. However, October is a time when humidity levels typically fall and temperatures rise—the perfect storm for the tiniest of sparks from a lawnmower or weed-eater to take off into high grasses on a gentle breeze. These conditions make me wonder if everyone took the time to create defensible space around their homes by limbing-up trees and pulling tall grasses? It is not too late to get these chores done.

Treat Yourself

The warm autumn days often find us cranking up the irrigation controller. But despite the warm temperatures, the days are shorter, the evenings longer and plants are entering their dormant phase. As a result, plants don’t need a lot of water now. Check your controller setting and compare it to the settings suggested on the Weekly Watering Schedule. Are your runtimes close to what is posted for your area? Be aware that this is one of the times of year when people tend to overwater the most.

MMWD Rebates: Get Paid to SaveAnd, if you are still manually changing your irrigation controller, might I suggest that you make an appointment with the Marin Municipal Water District’s Conservation Department and take that first step toward applying for a smart controller rebate? Smart controllers are a treat. Once they are up and running, no longer is it necessary to check or schedule runtimes every week. These controllers automatically adjust the runtimes to the current weather conditions, and many have features that automatically shut off the controller if it is raining, too windy or freezing. Smart controllers are custom-programmed to fit your specific garden conditions, making them time- and money-savers. Depending on your watering habits, you could find yourself using on average about 25 percent less irrigation water.

Warm weather, saving time and money—I am green with envy … or is that green coming from the four boxes of green tomatoes in the greenhouse that are calling to me?

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by Robin McKillop

shopping for a high-efficiency clothes washer

Checking out high-efficiency clothes washers at a local retailer

Since the late 1990s, more than 16,000 high-efficiency clothes washers have been installed in MMWD’s service area through our rebate programs. That’s a lot of laundry—and significant water and energy savings, especially since standards for high-efficiency washers have increased steadily over the years. Years ago, a clothes washer was considered efficient if it used 30 gallons per load. These days, to qualify as a Consortium for Energy Efficiency “Tier 3” model, a high-efficiency clothes washer must use 12 gallons or less. Some new washers use as little as seven gallons per load!

Not only do high-efficiency washers save water and energy, they also tend to be popular with our customers. Survey results from hundreds of our customers indicate that at least 90 percent would recommend their high-efficiency washer to a friend. With the success of our past programs, we’re delighted to bring back our popular clothes washer rebates—along with high-efficiency toilet and smart irrigation controller rebates, too! For complete details visit marinwater.org/rebates.

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by Charlene Burgi

Jack and I recently took the pups, Sassy and Misty, for a ride along the forest roads in Modoc and Lassen Counties. Hints of yellow and orange could be seen coming from deciduous trees and shrubs throughout the heavily coniferous forest. The leaf color changes turned our attention to what we needed to do to prepare for the change of season. We had already experienced two hard frosts that burned back much of the vegetable garden. The forest was telling us the clock was ticking, as was the weather report.

We learned the evening temperatures would drop below freezing this week. Many of our container plants summer outdoors under the covered decks but are relegated to indoor living for the cold winter months. Luckily, they were saved during the hard freeze by the overhead coverings, but the time for outdoor living was drawing to a close.

indoor/outdoor plant

Jack’s mom’s plant

Many plants appreciate protection from cold temperatures, but there is a procedure to follow. If you are moving plants inside during the winter, find a vessel that is conducive to both indoor and outdoor living. For example, Jack’s mother had a plant that we inherited some twenty-plus years ago. Every year we watched the plant come near to “melting” in Marin when the temperatures dropped. Lassen winter temperatures would certainly be suicide for this treasure. I purchased a heavily glazed pot to accent the indoor décor, bought a matching saucer to capture any excess from overhead watering and placed it on a dolly with wheels for ease of moving. Before coming indoors, the leaves of the plant are sprayed with water to dislodge any hidden insects.

This would also be the time to transplant if a plant has lived in a container longer than three years. New soil and a bigger container allow for room to grow. A good organic fertilizer or top-dressing of light compost would be a bonus. And the timing is perfect as the evening temperatures start to drop. Plan now to prevent shock to your plants from the vast temperature changes to come.

You might be thinking that Marin doesn’t need to worry about such things. I beg to differ. Many of our plants border on tropical. Citrus shudder at the frost, and bougainvillea often curl up their toes as the mercury plummets. Many days when we lived in Marin, makeshift, ragtag tents were placed over the treasures in my garden to protect them from the cold. Now that we are in Lassen, I think fondly of the orangeries used in Europe during the 17th through the 19th centuries, and it makes me thankful for my gift to me when I retired: today’s version of the orangery—the greenhouse. I am seriously considering putting a lemon tree in there as I miss the heavy production of that Meyer Improved lemon!

Convenience is another reason to bring plants indoors. Many of us have herbs growing in the garden. Rain often deters us from trudging into the garden to pick herbs for our favorite dish. May I suggest digging up some of those herbs right now, placing them in a pretty container and growing them indoors for easy access? Those plants will be ready to transplant outside in the spring and be well established thanks to your care! Just be certain to place them in a bright window and keep them watered!

Muddy mess of dogs

Muddy mess

Speaking of water, while I was writing the blog the pups managed to hit the shut-off valve to the future drip system … and yet another immediate chore added to the list …

Rebates: Woohoo!

MMWD is now offering rebates for high-efficiency toilets, high-efficiency clothes washers and smart irrigation controllers. To learn more, check out this video created by students at Ex’pression College in Emeryville, then visit marinwater.org/rebates.

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Get paid to save with rebates from MMWD! We’re pleased to offer rebates on high-efficiency toilets, high-efficiency clothes washers and smart irrigation controllers. Find details at marinwater.org/rebates.

Thanks to students Dean Mai, David Lau Lui and Nikole Rivera of Ex’pression College for Digital Arts who produced this video.

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by Robin McKillop

MMWD Rebates: Get Paid to SaveAfter a four-year hiatus, we’re pleased to announce rebates are back! This is your chance to save water, energy and money by installing qualifying high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers and smart irrigation controllers. Purchases must be made on or after September 1, 2013, to qualify. Visit us online at marinwater.org/rebates for complete program information, including qualifying product lists and application materials.

Rebates up to $100 per qualifying toilet

High-efficiency toilets (HETs) are designed to use less than 1.3 gallons per flush while retaining superior flushing performance. The models that qualify for a rebate from MMWD have passed rigorous testing standards to achieve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense label. Since toilets are the single biggest water-users inside your home, replacing an older one with a new high-efficiency model is an easy way to trim your water bill. To apply for a high-efficiency toilet rebate, simply review the program terms and conditions listed on the application form. Then purchase a qualifying toilet and submit your completed application with your original receipt.

Rebates up to $50 for qualifying clothes washers

High-efficiency clothes washers exceed federal efficiency standards. Washers that qualify for a rebate from MMWD are designed to use 12 gallons of water per load, or less. That’s less than half the water (and energy) needed by a washer that simply meets today’s federal efficiency standards. If you do a lot of laundry in your household, the water and energy savings can really pile up. To apply for a high-efficiency clothes washer rebate, simply review the program terms and conditions listed on the application form. Then purchase a qualifying clothes washer and submit your completed application with your original receipt.

Rebates up to $20 per residential valve and $30 per commercial valve for qualifying smart irrigation controllers

Smart irrigation controllers are designed to self-adjust based on real-time weather and site conditions like rainfall, wind, temperature, humidity, solar radiation and soil type. Smart irrigation controllers tailor watering schedules to actual site conditions, minimizing water waste and conserving water. While it’s tempting to fall into a “set it and forget it” approach, it’s important to remember that smart irrigation controllers are part of an irrigation system. They can perform as intended only if the system is properly designed, installed and maintained, and if the controller is installed, programmed and maintained properly.

To apply for a smart irrigation controller rebate, contact MMWD’s Water Conservation Department at (415) 945-1527 to schedule a water conservation site survey, before purchasing your new controller and after reviewing program terms and conditions. The water conservation survey will help you identify ways to conserve water at your property, both indoors and out, and will take about 60 to 90 minutes to complete. During the survey you will receive additional information about smart irrigation controllers to help you decide if they are a good match for you, as well as an application form. After you purchase your qualifying smart irrigation controller, submit your completed application with your original receipt. Rebate amounts are based on the number of active irrigation stations as determined during the survey.

Funding for these rebates comes from the Marin Municipal Water District and the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, administered by State of California, Department of Water Resources.

Bay Area water agencies are coordinating to provide this rebate program, funded in part under a regional grant to Bay Area Clean Water Agencies under the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, administered by State of California, Department of Water Resources.

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