Get green rebates with energy-saving upgrades

April 30, 2009

By David Hayes

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In these tough economic times, there are ways for families pinching pennies to reap the benefits of saving money through going green.

The first way is to install energy saving devices, from toilets and washers to water heaters and furnaces. In many cases, additional savings can also be enjoyed through rebates once installations are complete.


For example, customers of Cascade Water Alliance can replace their washing machines and toilets and receive a rebate of $100 per replacement. 

Mike Brent, water resources manager for the alliance, said depending upon the unit’s WashWise metric, the rebate ranges from $50 – $100.

“The metric determines the efficiency of a particular model,” he said. 

For a washer, the lower the water factor and the higher the energy factor, the more efficient the unit is.

“Last year, we had 3,101 customers participate in the WaterWise program,” Brent said. 

Cascade Water Alliance has extended the WaterWise rebate program this year to toilets. 

Brent said the industry has come a long way since the federal government mandated a change to low-flow toilets in 1992. At first, the manufacturers were not fully on board with the change, he said, and essentially offered just a smaller tank on an existing bowl. 

“They were terrible,” he said. 

The toilets often had to be flushed twice to accomplish the job, negating any effect the lower flow of water had.

“There is a stigma that still exists today from the reputation the low-flow toilets got back then,” Brent added.

Since, manufacturers have gotten fully on board with the change, as evidenced by the long list of toilets that qualify for the WashWise rebate listed on the alliance’s Web site. To receive the label, Brent said toilets have to work at 20 percent less than federal code at 1.28 gallons per flush and have to demonstrate they perform well.


The EnergyStar label

In addition to the rebates, industry studies show consumers save additional money replacing an older top loader washing machine with a newer front load model with the EnergyStar label. One study showed that getting rid of a pre-1994 washer, for example, can save a family $110 a year on utility bills.

Heating and cooling represents the single largest energy user in a typical home. Hot water systems are another big user. Today’s systems can reduce energy consumption by 30 percent or more — while improving comfort and air quality at the same time.  

The EnergyStar label has been around longer than the WaterWise one. Homeowners now have the opportunity to double dip in rebate programs involving products with the EnergyStar label.  

Puget Sound Energy customers who purchase a new furnace or water heater can qualify for both a federal rebate under the just-passed stimulus package and from PSE itself.

Rebekah Anderson, corporate communication program manager for PSE, said natural gas customers who purchase a new furnace are eligible for a $350 rebate, $50 for a new water storage tank and $150 for a tankless water heater that have an EnergyStar label.

“EnergyStar is an Environmental Protection Agency verified product that uses less energy,” Anderson explained.

Last year, more than 30,000 PSE customers utilized PSE’s rebate program.

In addition, the new federal stimulus package includes a tax credit of up to $1,500 for the installation of higher efficiency furnaces and boilers, air source heat pumps, central air conditioners and hot water heaters in tax years 2009 and 2010.


Save in other areas, too

The energy savings and rebates continue into the bathroom and kitchen. Anderson said PSE customers could also receive a free energy-efficient showerhead and bathroom-faucet aerator. 

Without sacrificing performance, a new, efficient showerhead and bathroom faucet aerator will use up to 20 percent less water and energy. Anderson pointed out that when you use less water, you conserve a valuable resource for the environment, wildlife and our future. Heating less water also means using less energy.

“The aerator cuts the amount of water coming out at any one time,” she said. 

Anderson said picture filling a bucket with water from the shower. It will fill quicker with the old showerheads because more water comes out than with the new ones with an aerator. It will actually take 20 percent more water from the aerator showerhead to fill the bucket after the old showerhead is done.

“It’s not so great if you’re trying to fill the bucket in a hurry, but great if you want to save 20 percent on water use,” she added.

Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 239, or Comment on this story at

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One Response to “Get green rebates with energy-saving upgrades”

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