When it comes to projects that reduce energy, one of the big motives, if not the biggest motive, is the cost savings that will be gained from using less energy. While energy savings will ultimately be one of the biggest drivers behind a project, many businesses do not fully grasp the full package of financial incentives that can help reduce the upfront cost of a project. Financial incentives can turn a good project into a great project by improving the payback and return on investment.
One of the major incentives available for energy efficiency projects are rebates offered by utility companies. While we find that most of our customers have an idea about the rebate program offered by their utility provider, a common problem that we see is they do not know how to take full advantage of the program. Its not their fault though, it takes a professional to truly understand the ins and outs of the program. It’s not as simple as receiving a rebate check after purchasing a piece of equipment. Below are the top 5 reasons why you need a professional to maximize your rebate amount.
1. Products Matter!
Rebate programs usually have specific requirements as to what type of products qualify. Equipment that is OK in one location may be ineligible in another area. Popular requirements are DLC, Energy Star, CEE and Lighting Facts. It’s not enough if the spec sheets have the DLC or Energy Star logo, the product must be on the current list. Sometimes, by spending a little more money for a premium product you qualify for generous rebates.
2. Follow the Rules and Manage the Application Process
Did you know most rebate programs require pre-approval before new materials are purchased? This pre-approval process can take 2-4 weeks and usually includes paperwork, inspections, spec sheets, technical reviews, etc. Purchasing or installing lights before you have official pre-approval can result in missing out on the money. From pre-inspection to receiving the rebate check in hand can easily take several months. During this time, there’s a lot of correspondence and work with the rebate administrators. Each year, rebate programs handle thousands of applications, so it’s easy for applications to get stalled or mishandled. It’s important to stay on top of it to make sure deadlines are not missed and the full rebate amount is received.
3. One Size Does Not Fit All
Small business, direct install, custom, prescriptive, upstream, midstream, downstream… there are many different types of rebates for energy efficiency projects. It is up to the customer to investigate their options to choose the one that gets them the most money. Sometimes, it’s even possible to layer different programs on top of one another for an even higher incentive. For example, a project can sometimes be divided into separate prescriptive and custom projects to help maximize the rebate amount if not all the equipment is covered by the prescriptive rebates.
4. Find Ways Around the Maximum Caps
Many utilities cap the amount of rebate money that a customer can receive. But does that cap limit apply to a specific time period (per quarter, calendar year, etc.) or to each specific project? A professional can help customers plan the timeline of their projects or divide them up to work around these caps in order to receive the most possible rebates. Also, it’s common for utilities to run out of funding for projects at some point during their calendar year. By working with a professional, customers can avoid this problem by ensuring that their applications are submitted before rebate funds dry up for the year.
5. Should You Even Pay for the Program?
Believe it or not, customers are paying for the rebate program with a charge on their utility bills. Some utilities allow customers to opt-in and out of the program. Whether or not it makes financial sense to be in the program often depends on what projects are planned and what projects have already been completed. A professional can help customers decide which option will save the most money.
Using a combination of the above reasons, SEMCO recently helped two customers double the rebate amount received for their energy efficiency projects (see chart to the right). With our vast knowledge and experience of working with some of the largest utility companies in the country (Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, ComEd, Entergy, TVA, and more), we know that we can help your project receive the maximum rebate amount. Please contact us today to see how we can help your project!