How to Identify & Take Advantage of Utility Incentives

Alison Liaboe

Because our world economy is growing and evolving like never before, the demand for energy is rising at record rates. The rise in energy demand is putting additional strain on an already aging utility infrastructure. With large price tags attached to capital investments, utilities are looking to reduce overall energy consumption. To help offset this rise in energy demand both utility companies and the government are offering energy efficient incentives and rebates. Utilities WANT you to learn how to participate in these rebate and incentive programs.

incentive_and_rebate_dollarsBillions of dollars in incentives are being allocated at the federal, state and local level across the U.S., with 48 states providing one or more energy efficiency programs. There is a wealth of money available for businesses to tap into to help offset the cost of energy efficient capital investments. If you are looking to reduce your energy consumption, taking advantage of incentives and rebates will allow you to upgrade old equipment for newer, better designed and more efficient equipment.

Common examples for incentives include:

  • Changing out inefficient HVAC equipment
  • Lighting change outs (to CFL’s or LED’s)
  • Installation of energy management systems
  • Improvement of the building envelopes (cool roofs, window films, insulation)
  • Installation of ENERGY STAR® rated products (washers, driers, refrigerators, ovens and other appliances)
  • Installation of renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal)
  • Water management

Though businesses have plenty of program opportunities available to them, there are several challenges that you 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 ensure that these obstacles don’t deter you from chasing the money, consider building a strong rebate incentive strategy. To do this, you have to ask questions like:

  • 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 offer the biggest return on my investment?
  • What are the time limits for implementing these initiatives?
  • What are the rebate and incentive deadlines and what is the application process?
  • Do I have the appropriate paper work? Do I have to conduct a pre-audit?

A common mistake that companies make when evaluating their ROI is that they don’t take into account the cost of inspections, metering, or anything else that might be required to receive that incentive. Once you add in these costs into your final calculation, you may find that other projects offer a better return on your investment.


The next step to acquiring utility rebates and incentives involves creating an essential flow of information that evaluates and prioritizes opportunities. When prioritizing the best opportunities, consider how your contractors, your internal team, and even equipment suppliers will be involved.


Be extra careful when you submit the paperwork; companies easily miss out on opportunities because they didn’t correctly complete the forms. Designate someone to manage the rebate approval process and double-check your work. Don’t forget to plan for any pre-audits that may be required.

If you have a portfolio with many different sites, consider partnering with a service provider, like Ecova, that will research available rebate and incentive opportunities for you, help determine which opportunities would be the best to pursue and document the Measure and Verification (M&V) process to demonstrate and prove your ROI.

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