When it comes to managing your household energy costs, you’d think your electric and gas utility would be the last place to look for help. After all, why would they pay you to use less energy?
Because regulations now give them financial rewards for meeting energy-efficiency goals.
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
- Adding insulation
- Sealing ducts
- 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 independent pro.
- 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 energy consumption.
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.