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Energy tax-free holiday to start

LAWRENCEVILLE - If you need a new toilet, live in Gwinnett County and don't buy the commode this coming weekend, you'll have flushed your best opportunity to save money right down the latrine. That's because from Thursday through Sunday, it's Georgia's tax-free holiday on energy-efficient and water-efficient products.

"The first weekend in October is a good time to replace that old toilet," said Kit Dunlap, the Metro Water District chairman in a statement. "This tax savings gives Georgians an extra incentive to make changes within their homes to conserve water."

According to Dunlap, customers of Gwinnett County Water Resources who live in homes built prior to 1993 can save more money during the holiday if they replace their older toilets. She said that's because Gwinnett is participating in the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District's residential toilet rebate program. Under terms of the program, customers who live in single-family homes built before 1993 who replace an older toilet with a WaterSense-labeled toilet may qualify for a $100 credit on their water bill. That's in addition to the money saved by not paying state and local sales taxes during the tax holiday weekend.

"Residents who take advantage of this sales tax savings will not only save money, but also conserve water for now and for the future," Dunlap said. "It's a win-win for everyone."

WaterSense is a certification and labeling program created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that says its products have been tested to ensure that they meet water efficiency and performance criteria, similar to the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star program. On average, WaterSense-labeled products use 20 percent less water than items without the label. In addition to the WaterSense products - toilets, showerheads and faucets - consumers can also take advantage this weekend by purchasing Energy Star efficient products. These include items with the Energy Star label like air conditioners, fluorescent light bulbs, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, ceiling fans and programmable thermostats.

The exemptions on state and local taxes is limited to products with a purchase price of $1,500 or less and that are for non-commercial use only. For more specific information on the toilet rebate program, visit www.northgeorgiawater.org. For information concerning the tax-free holiday, visit www.dor.ga.gov/salestax/holiday/index.aspx.