14. REBATE PROGRAM
Rebate programs create financial incentives for installation and retrofitting of household appliances with water-saving devices. Water departments offer rebates or discounts for residents to purchase efficient fixtures and appliances, such as low-flow toilets, showerheads, and washing machines. Water-efficient appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines are usually energy-efficient too, and communities may offer rebates through energy saving programs such as Energy Star. Communities can also offer discounts and giveaways for rain barrels, which connect to roof gutters and store non-potable rainwater for garden watering.
Given the rapid advances in water efficiency, rebate programs should regularly update lists of fixtures and appliances that are eligible for subsidies, to ensure that the latest generation of ultra low-flow toilets (1.28 gallons per flush), low-flow showerheads (no more than 2 gallons per minute), and highly efficient washing machines are targeted. Higher subsidies may also be offered for purchase of the most water-efficient devices.
In communities with older housing stock, programs to replace older, water-guzzling toilets through comprehensive retrofits and rebates are critical. In rapidly developing communities, programs to encourage or require the installation of efficient appliances in new developments may be more important. Municipalities have the opportunity to mandate the installation of highly efficient fixtures and appliances, such as ultra low-flow toilets and washing machines, through local building codes and/or subdivision rules and regulations.
Several towns in the Ipswich River watershed have offered rebate and discount programs to promote water-efficient appliances and rain barrels. The Ipswich Utilities Department offers an Energy Star Rebate Program for appliances that are both energy and water-efficient. In 2005, the rebate was $50 for clothes washers, dishwashers, and refrigerators, and $25 for air conditioners. According to Ipswich Utilities, washers purchased through the program typically use 40-50 percent less water and 50 percent less electricity, and can save up to $120 on energy and water costs. Over two years, more than 100 customers took advantage of the rebate program.
The town of Reading also offers significant rebates for the purchase of water-efficient appliances: $200 for a high-efficiency clothes washer, $120 for an ultra low-flush toilet, and $25 for an irrigation system moisture sensor. In addition, the Reading/North Reading Stream Team, a local advocacy group, received grant funding to conduct a rain barrel demonstration project in Reading and North Reading. The Stream Team partnered with the North Reading Water Department to create a subsidized rain barrel revolving fund. They purchased barrels with grant money and used the income from the sale of the barrels at a reduced price ($50 versus $60 wholesale price) to purchase additional barrels until funds ran out. Demonstration barrels were placed at the town hall and the library along with literature. In Reading, the Stream Team partnered with the Department of Public Works to offer rain barrels at only $10 above the wholesale price. Order forms were available at a variety of locations and demonstration barrels were used at community events, including a town-wide election. A total of 84 barrels were sold in Reading through pre-paid orders.
A roof runoff capture demonstration project is also currently underway to install 200-gallon and 800-gallon rainwater capture and reuse systems in 39 homes in Wilmington and one or two multi-thousand-gallon underground systems at commercial or institutional sites within the Ipswich River watershed. The systems are paid for by the Department of Conservation and Recreation under an EPA Targeted Watersheds Grant. The project seeks to quantify the effect of roof runoff capture devices in reducing potable water use for outdoor irrigation.
Water Wise Communities: Index
- Introduction & Using the Handbook
- How Development Affects Water (link to IRWA site)
- Checklist: Is Your Community Water Wise?
- Water Wise Tools:
- Master plan for smart growth
- Integrated water resources management plan
- Comprehensive open space plan
- Water use restriction bylaw
- Outdoor water use bylaw
- Private well bylaw
- Stormwater management program and bylaws
- Open space residential design bylaw
- Source water protection program and bylaw
- Non-zoning wetlands bylaw
- Conservation water rate structure
- Water bank or offset program
- Stormwater fee or utility
- Rebate program
- Dedicated funding source for land acquisition
- Water audits and leak detection
- LID demonstration projects on municipal property
- Habitat restoration on municipal property
- Outreach program
- Water conservation coordinator