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Tips for Using Rebates to Upgrade Properties

Tips for Using Rebates to Upgrade Properties

Money that’s available to offset costs of energy-saving upgrades for homes is getting more plentiful, plus it’s easier to find.

Many state utility companies and municipalities offer rebates, incentives and demand-response programs to the tune of billions each year to encourage federal facilities and consumers to trim energy use and demand.

Incentives range from free energy audits to discounts or money back on energy-efficient equipment like HVAC systems, toilets and light bulbs. Taking advantage of the savings is a win-win for users: Often the cost of supplies or fixtures is heavily discounted or even free, plus utility bills are lowered.

Available money through energy efficiency funding in 2013 was about $8 billion, up from $3.1 billion in 2008, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. And getting the money is easier than it was a few years ago as the rebate process has become simpler. Some companies provide the service to secure rebates and incentives, while some retailers are striving to make purchasing products and getting money back a one-stop shop.

“I think the process across the country is better in the last two years than it has ever been,” says Scott Matthews, Home Depot’s director of strategic accounts. “It used to be a tremendous amount of paperwork to be able to take advantage of those incentives.”

Single-family properties have a lot to gain working with rebates, incentives

Home Depot is among retailers that have created online portals to simplify the application process for rebates and incentives. Buyers of energy-saving products can make purchases and submit paperwork – even track it – without going through red tape. Lowe’s and other home improvement centers provide similar services.

Property owners stand to gain a lot by taking the time to work with a rebate partner or exploring the options available, Matthews says. In some cases, costly energy- or water-saving upgrades can be offset by manufacturer and utility company rebates and incentives.

“Power companies, for example, allot so much for energy efficiency programs for single-family and multifamily housing,” he said. “Those are the rebates that push the energy efficiency product into the footprint.”

A popular toilet from Niagara has been getting a lot of attention lately with up to $100 available in rebates. The toilet operates on 0.8 gallons per flush and sells for about $150 retail. One online reviewer says you can’t beat the deal after the rebate. “Over the past three years, I replaced three toilets with this product. I have had zero problems with it. And the price is nearly free, after water district rebates.”

Below are websites where manufacturer and utility/municipality rebates and other incentives can be found:

eco-friendly house


Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergyStar has one of the most comprehensive lists of rebates and special offers from program partners. A number of mail-in rebates, low-interest loans and buy downs or discounts are available through municipalities and utility companies. Products include heating and cooling systems, water heaters, electronics and lighting and fixtures.

Category searches by area or in all zip codes show rebate or special offer provider, how much money is available, a timeline and link. The site is simply a roadmap to who’s offering savings; it doesn’t offer purchasing assistance or help to secure rebates or special offers.

Water Sense

WaterSense, also a product of the EPA, offers a search site by state of WaterSense-labeled products that are eligible for rebates or special savings. These include equipment and water conservation services.

Searches can be done for rebates available from water providers for bathroom sink faucets, faucet accessories, irrigation systems, shower heads, toilets, urinals, weather-based irrigation controllers and pre-rinse spray valves.

Retailer Websites

Home Depot and Lowe’s are among large retailers that show manufacturer rebates and special savings, plus assist in securing the money back. The sites include rebates and incentives locally available, along with downloads of manufacturer forms and portals for online submission of rebates and tracking.

Searches are available by manufacturer name, item and product number and rebates and savings vary depending on the retailer.

energy efficient lightbulb


DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency in the United States. Operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the site lists state agencies that offer incentives for products to entire programs.

Included are grants, loan programs, sales tax incentives, personal tax incentives, corporate tax credits and exemptions and other opportunities to save while conforming to energy-efficient standards. Incentives may range from savings on kilowatt hours to lower costs or rebates on equipment and fixtures.

Incentives and rebates for energy- and water-saving products are more plentiful and easier than ever before. Are you exploring your options?

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