Richmond residents used an average of 64 gallons of water a day in 2014. That’s much lower than many surrounding towns (Piedmont residents, for example, used 110 gallons a day), but amid calls from Sacramento for all California residents to reduce water consumption by 25 percent, Richmond will have to do even better.
Luckily, state government and local environmentalists are getting creative to help the public conserve water. From offering a new program to spur the use of water-efficient appliances, to encouraging new ways of approaching landscapes, the public has much to gain from these new endeavors.
One of the most immediately beneficial programs for Richmond homeowners is the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. This project offers new, energy- and water-efficient home improvements that property owners can pay back through their property taxes — and the interest is tax deductible.
Richmond homeowners can receive new washing machines, solar panels, insulation, and more without having to pay for the costs upfront. Even better, recipients of these new appliances will see immediate savings in their utility bills.
“Every community in California, including Richmond, is under pressure to use significantly less water,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt in a statement. “PACE programs like HERO make it easy for homeowners to upgrade and green their homes.”
The HERO PACE program is already widely used in Southern California, and the water and energy saving benefits are significant. So far an estimated 790 million gallons of water — or about 25 million showers — have been saved.
This program is also poised to benefit local contractors and the local economy. When a homeowner needs an appliance repaired, HERO-qualified contractors will recommend efficient upgrades that will save them money in the long run.
“I see a lot of homeowners putting off improvements they need and want to make to cut down on their utility bills,” said Kevin Comerford, owner of Pleasanton’s Service Champions Heating and Air Conditioning in a statement. “I’m looking forward to being able to offer HERO Financing to my customers.”
Richmond residents are also being encouraged to pursue alternative landscapes for their lawns. East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) encourages local residents to explore options such as succulent gardens that require less water than traditional grass lawns. But there are options for those who just want a green yard.
Sam Choan of Organic Lesson falls into this latter camp. “As a California homeowner, one thing that is difficult to give up is a lush, green lawn,” Choan said. “The water restrictions mean that some concessions would have to be made but it also doesn't mean that you have to get rid of your lawn entirely.”
Choan put together a handy info graph to help local residents learn which drought-resistant grasses might be best for them. “Richmond is in the USDA Hardiness Zone 10A, which makes it a place where many of these drought-tolerant grasses could thrive,” he said.
Richmond residents have many options to make their homes more sustainable during this historic drought. To learn more about the HERO PACE program, click here. You can read more tips from Choan at Organic Lesson here.