Surprise: Your utility may offer big-time energy rebates to offset the
cost of energy-efficient retrofits.
Because regulations now give them financial rewards for meeting
Even though it costs about one-third to one-fourth less to save a
kilowatt hour through conservation than it does to build, fuel, and
operate a new power plant, utilities resisted conservation programs
for years, says Martin Kushler, senior fellow with the American
Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Instead, they opted
to finance new plants over the long term and pass along the costs to
all of us as higher rates—until regulators stepped in.
What energy rebates are available through your utility?
Some are small—say, a $20 rebate after you purchase a programmable
thermostat. Others range into the thousands of dollars, especially for
expensive items such as solar panels.
A few examples of home improvements that can qualify for energy
rebates from utilities:
Installing Energy Star appliances
Installing programmable thermostats
Installing geothermal heating
Replacing water heaters with high-efficiency models
Getting a home energy audit (see below)
What does my utility offer?
Check your utility’s website for a list of any incentives.
Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables &
Efficiency. DSIRE’s search function allows you to filter results for
residential rebates offered by utilities.
Get your utility to slash home energy audit price
Paralyzed by all the potential rebate options? Get an energy pro to
come to your house and tell you exactly which energy-efficient
retrofits will be cost-effective for you.
Offer free in-home energy evaluations performed by utility staff.
Give a rebate against the price of an energy audit conducted by an
Rebate part of the cost of any recommended improvements. In
California, for example, Pacific Gas & Electric offers up to $4,000 in
rebates for any household that receives an energy audit, implements
the recommended changes, and achieves a 15% reduction or more in
The auditor will advise you on the potential cost of recommended
improvements vs. the money they’ll save you on your energy bills. If
your utility rebates part of the cost of those improvements, the
return on your investment will come much faster.
It’s definitely worth checking out—especially if the audit is free or
at a reduced cost.
By: Karin Beuerlein