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California received over $35 million in funding through the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program and decided to address their water and energy problems at the same time by targeting clothes washers with the highest rebates.
A couple of months ago we asked our Partners to contact their state energy offices and urge them to create a water-efficiency version of "cash for clunkers" with the stimulus money they were receiving for energy efficient appliance rebate programs. We heard from groups in 5 states who passed our message along and spread the word about the benefits of targeting water using appliances for energy conservation programs.
California heeded the call by designing a program that offers $100 rebates for consumers interested in swapping out their old clothes washer for a more water and energy efficient model. The other rebates offered in California are $75 for refrigerators and $50 for air conditioners.
By prioritizing clothes washers with energy efficiency funding, the California Energy Commission is signaling two things: 1) you can get more bang for your buck with strategies that simultaneously save water and energy, and 2) water and energy are inextricably linked. Communities struggling with water scarcity can save water on both ends by reducing direct water use at the point of use and indirect water use at power plants by reducing the cooling water needs of power generation. Energy savings are also both direct and indirect, with energy savings in the home due to the more efficient appliance as well as energy savings in the water system due to the reduced water demands (and pumping/treatement costs) from water efficiency.