Utility Rebates: Lighting and Controls

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

While new lighting systems can come with hefty price tags, it is possible to get some help paying for them from the local utility company.

Remember when you were a cute little kid and if you were just a bit short of money for your purchase at the store, your mom or your grandpa or your big sister came through and bailed you out so that you could get that thing that you wanted? Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if Grandpa would help pay for your lighting projects today?

Good news! While new lighting systems can come with hefty price tags, it is possible to get some help paying for them from the local utility company. The utilities are motivated to help you save energy when their facilities are near capacity. In order to avoid the cost of building a new power generation plant, they offer financial incentives to their customers to encourage energy efficiency.

What kind of rebates can you get? Here is a handy map you can use to find out about local, state, federal, or utility incentives in your area: http://www.dsireusa.org/

Every utility company is different, and there are over 3000 different utility companies in the US, so the first thing to do is to check with your local utility to find out what rebates are available to you.

Rebates for Lighting Controls

One of the most commonly available options is a rebate for the installation of lighting controls. Occupancy sensors are often eligible for rebates, which makes them a super-attractive (and with rebates, nearly free) energy-saving option for lighting. Other lighting controls that might receive rebates are daylight harvesting or even basic dimming controls.

Rebates for Lamp Replacements

Replacing an inefficient lamp with a more energy-efficient one is another common way to get a utility rebate. For example, there are many rebates available for T8, T5, LED, and efficient HID sources. The more lamps you replace, the more energy you save…and the bigger the rebate! Don’t forget about exit signs – you may be able to get a rebate for switching to LED exit signs.

Custom Rebates

A custom rebate can even be created for a new project. If you can show that the new project is significantly more efficient than a typical new project would be, or if you illustrate a change of plans for improved efficiency, funds may be available. Custom rebates are also offered based on the total energy savings of a retrofit project. Because of the nature of custom rebates – they’re custom! – You must work closely with the utility company from start to finish.

It is always important to check with your local utility before doing the work, because some utilities require pre-approval prior to construction when granting any rebates. Also, many rebate programs are funded annually, so you must verify that funds are available for you at the time your project begins.

Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting.


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