Lighting rebates are available in most parts of the country which offers incentives to install or retrofit lighting equipment so that a building or application is more energy efficient. These are offered by the government, financing institutions and most commonly utility companies.
It is estimated that 100’s of millions of dollars are awarded in lighting rebates each year. Savvy electrical contractors and ESCOs can often use these rebates to secure more and higher paying lighting jobs as it decreases the out-of-pocket expense of their end-user customer.
According to BriteSwitch, prescriptive lighting rebates are available from utilities covering 64% of the country. These rebates improve payback by an average 20-25%, making investment in new lighting more attractive.
National Rebate Climate - Commercial Lighting - source: BriteSwitch
Utilities offer rebates to reduce electrical demand, as it costs significantly less to incentivize a customer to reduce energy consumption than it does to build new generating capacity. The most popular incentive is the prescriptive lighting rebate. A customer installs energy-efficient equipment and receives a cash payment.
Traditional lighting: Focused on existing buildings, rebates for high-intensity discharge (HID), high-bay T5HO and T8, and induction lighting upgrades are still available. These rebates typically cover enough of the cost to support good payback. If specifying low-wattage and high-performance T8, the program may require the product be listed by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE).
LED lighting: Many programs are now focusing on LED lighting with downlights, track lighting, high-bays, linear panels, outdoor pole-mounted lighting and linear replacement lamps being popular. LED panels designed to replace fluorescent troffers, for example, have an average rebate of $34, LED high-bays $80. For example, the Lumight Seara garage/canopy luminaire, available with pendant and ceiling mounting for garage applications (and also post mounting for area lighting), qualifies for an average rebate of $94. The program may require the product be listed by ENERGY STAR or the DesignLights Consortium (DLC, which maintains the Qualified Products List).
Lighting controls: Most rebate programs include prescriptive rebates for lighting controls, with average rebates covering a significant portion of the cost. The most popular rebates cover occupancy sensors, daylight sensors and daylight dimming systems. Many programs are now recognizing wireless controls and are starting to consider networked lighting control systems. Some require the rebated solution control a minimum load, expressed either in luminaires or watts.
Getting the rebate requires understanding the program and some legwork.
Understand the program. Get to know the program, including what rebates are available, what products qualify for those rebates, the approval process and deadlines. Note that most programs require pre-approval; if work starts before approval is given, the rebate opportunity may be forfeited.
Specify qualifying products. Ensure the selected product satisfies applicable performance criteria and is represented on required approved product lists such as CEE, DLC and ENERGY STAR. Verify a product being considered is actually on the list by going to the respective organization’s website. For example, currently, 55 Lumight LED outdoor products are listed in the DLC’s Qualified Products List.
Stay engaged. According to BriteSwitch, 24% of rebate programs ran out of money during the year. Keep in touch with the program to ensure it will fulfill its promises. Avoid paperwork mistakes that can cause delays.
Become a trade ally. Many programs have established a network of qualified service providers or trade allies. Becoming a trade ally can provide recognition and access to training and other resources.
Electrical contractors should always be aware of various lighting rebates. Thes will often be a determining factor of if a an end-user can afford or choose to go forward with a job and contract with the contractor.
To get started, contact Lumight or your local utility. You can also visit the DSIREUSA.org website, which maintains a database of utility incentives.