Riverside Free Tree Program

By :Sarah McMenamy

Riverside, as anyone who lives here knows, is a hot place. We struggle to stay cool at least half the year. For those who can afford it and don’t mind the energy use there are ton’s of high-tech air conditioning units that can mitigate the heat. Many of us don’t have the luxury of a high electricity bill being within our price range or we are actively looking for ways to lower our energy usage. On average someone with a 915 square foot apartment will spend $200 a month on basic utilities (electric, heating, water, and garbage). Riverside has long been known for its citrus though much has changed in the last few decades as many orange groves have been removed for the purpose of development. The city of Riverside has been making moves to become a more sustainable county over the past few years. One of the major things they’ve been working on is giving locals incentives for becoming more sustainable on their own. This includes Riverside City Utilities who started a program for people in Riverside County that employ them for utility services. Anyone who owns property or has consent from their landlord can bring in their March utility bill and receive a free shade or citrus tree. The goal of this is that people will plant this tree in front of a window and as it grows it will provide shade and ideally lower the cost of cooling in the long run. These trees also serve to clean air, provide privacy, and prevent soil erosion. There is also a tree rebate program that has similar goals where Riverside residents can get up to five $25 rebates per year on trees from selected local nurseries. Now these programs have some rules such as plating the tree within 14 days of receiving it, planting within 35 feet of the structure, and buying the tree from a certified local grower or nursery. Shade trees have been shown to lower energy costs by up to 20%. So if you live in Riverside county and have Riverside City Utilities as your provider consider taking them up on their offer for a free tree once a year, I mean, who doesn't like a little shade and a fresh glass of orange juice on a hot morning?


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