Get Money Back for Energy Efficiency

From on February 11, 2009 in Green Remodeling


The whole concept of getting rebates – money back – for investing in energy-efficient improvements for your home is both appealing and confusing. We’re all familiar with the rebate concept in areas like cars, electronics, and home appliances. In these cases, we know the drill:

  • We make a purchase, knowing the manufacturer of the product will give us some of the purchase price back at some point in the near future.
  • We weigh this rebate incentive into our decision to make a certain purchase.
  • We recalculate the actual cost of the product based on the amount to be rebated.
  • We go through the red tape of applying for the rebate.
  • We wait for the rebate check to arrive in the mail.

GreenWednesdayMost of us have taken advantage of rebate offers like this, and have likely determined that it’s worth the hassle. I mean, wouldn’t it just be easier if we could have the rebate amount knocked off the purchase price to begin with? Certainly it would be for us, the consumers. But those who are paying out the rebates obviously don’t think so.

Now the rebate concept for getting after-the-fact compensations for investing in energy-efficient purchases for our homes is becoming well known. This can seem confusing because since this is a relatively new type of rebate offering, most of us don’t know which products are likely to deliver these rebates, or where to go to get the rebates. Here are some useful starting points for exploring the possibilities.

DSIRE – the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency - is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. You can click on your state and come up with a list of incentives that include items such as:

  • Green Building Incentive
  • Personal Tax Credit
  • Property Tax Credit
  • Residential Energy-Efficiency Rebate Programs
  • And dozens of other categories describing individual and business incentives

Energy Star – Special Offers and Rebates from Energy Star Partners prompts you to enter your zip code and check off the product(s) you’re shopping for, including:

  • Appliances (choose among 6 options)
  • Fans (choose among 2 options)
  • Heating and Cooling Equipment (7 options)
  • Home Electronics (8 options)
  • Home Envelope (huh? Oh! That’s insulation, windows, roofing, etc – 3 options)
  • Lighting Products (4 options)
  • Office Equipment (12 options)
  • Residential Water Heaters (6 options)
  • Once you make your selections, you are presented with information about:
  • The sponsor of the program
  • The amount of the rebate or special offer
  • The specific products that qualify
  • Dates the rebate or special offer is valid

Most states also have their own websites that provide information specific to homeowners and businesses within that state. Many utility companies, such as PG&E, have websites providing incentive information as well.

Once you’ve dabbled around and discovered how these information sources present their incentives, you’ll have a general understanding of how to search for rebate offers for the specific energy-efficient products you’re considering. Your licensed contractor is also a good source for information for ways to make energy-efficient remodeling more economical.