If it’s the thought that counts, then Title 24 was a kind one.

After all, when it was enacted decades ago in 1978, California was at the bleeding edge with its seemingly lofty goal of reducing energy use and standardizing building codes. Mainly it was so the state didn’t have to build more power plants. And who wouldn’t want that?

Jimmy Carter was president and the 1979 oil crisis was still a year away. The first draft was clunky and far too ambiguous, but it placed a stake in the ground as to the state’s intent to reign in energy use.

Since then, Title 24 rules have been refreshed every three years culminating in the most recent 2013 update which goes into effect July 1, 2014. The executive brief on the latest update: elevated A/C efficiency standards, building air-tightness and energy-efficiency lighting. Things like insulation have remained unchanged since 1982.

Still, the code remains arduous and complicated, and few are versed.

What it has done is spur a wave of handy little rebates from the utility companies. They can be an apartment manager’s best friend during a build, renovation or replacement program if you know how to navigate the code, falling prices and product warranty. Such rebates can shorten the pay-off term and create immediate financial recovery for your property.

State regulators remain the gatekeeper on the fit and finish of these incentives and many details are yet to be determined on this fast-moving target. It is safe to say that at present, the most dramatic rebates have to do with LED lamp replacements.

Within the last 24 months, LED lamps have fallen in price, almost by the day. While the price war has primarily been between domestic distributors Cree (N.C.) and GE (Conn.) the market is anticipating China to soon enter undercutting both in the months ahead.

This is important to note as a combination of low price and robust rebates could result in a low to no-cost lighting retrofit for your property.

And LED performance is so dramatically greater than typical incandescent lamps, for example, that any savings on your energy bill beyond replacement could be pure gain.

Points to keep in mind: Rules that become “code” or “standard” are no longer eligible for utility rebates. From now until when the rules take effect in July, keep an eye out for further updates and changes.

Starting July 1, 2014, the definition of a “code-triggering” lighting retrofits will expand to include most projects where at least 10 percent of luminaries in a given space are altered (the previous threshold was 50 percent), or at least 40 luminaires are modified-in-place. As a result of this change, most customized lighting projects will trigger code starting July 1, 2014.

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