4 steps for getting the most out of utility rebates and incentives

As the demand for energy is rising at record rates, billions of dollars in incentives are being allocated at the federal, state and local level across the U.S. to spur energy efficiency programs. For businesses, this means that there is a wealth of money available for them to tap into to help fund their energy reduction initiatives and offset the cost of energy efficient capital investments.

Though businesses have plenty of program opportunities available to them, there are several challenges that you and your company will face. There are multiple program providers who each have different standards, timelines and requirements. To complicate things even more, these programs are constantly changing. Just keeping up with what opportunities are currently available can be overwhelming, especially for multi-site operators.

To help overcome these challenges, there are four steps that must be followed to ensure your company is getting the most value and return out of these rebate and incentive opportunities.

Step 1: Do your homework

With 48 states providing one or more energy efficiency program for businesses, there are many incentives and rebates that are offered through these programs for measures such as changing out inefficient HVAC equipment, switching to LED or CFL lighting, implementing energy management systems, installing ENERGY STAR products, water management, improving building envelopes (cool roofs, window film, insulation) and installing renewable energy such as solar panels. However, all of these incentives vary by state, industry and product.

Before getting started, conduct research on the different rebate and incentive opportunities that are available to you. The ENERGY STAR® website offers an extensive database of equipment and appliances that have been approved by the government to meet energy efficiency standards, and the ACEEE website lets you look at energy incentive opportunities by state.

Step 2: Establish a strategy

Once you determine the rebate and incentive opportunities that are available to you, it's important to develop a strategy. Like any business plan, you need a strategy to ensure that you're aligning your resources to reach your target ROI on incentives and rebates.

When developing your rebate incentive strategy, ask yourself the following questions:

  • For the activities that I want to pursue in the coming period, what does my capital budget look like?
  • How much will these rebates and incentives offset the initial cost?
  • Which facilities and technologies will get me the biggest return on investment?
  • What are the time limits for implementing these initiatives?
  • What are the rebate and incentive deadlines and what is the application process?
  • What is the measurement and verification process?
  • Do I have the appropriate paperwork? Am I required to conduct a pre-audit?
  • What are the risks and ramifications for getting less than predicted?

Next page:  Avoid this common mistake