Utility Company Discounts Waiting for You

It has been unseasonably cold in Orlando for the past couple of weeks. Nights have dropped into the thirties and days have rarely made it past 75 degrees. While that may seem balmy to anyone living north of Florida, trust me when I tell you that I am not used to this kind of cold weather and I have been wearing three layers of clothing every day!

Despite the cold weather, I recently agreed with my electric utility company that it could install a shut-off switch on my water heaters and some of my other electricity eating devices so that during moments of peak energy usage, the utility can divert power away from my house. The diversions are rare and the utility promises that I will not notice them. More importantly, I shall save about $200 per year on my electric bill as consideration for allowing the utility to stop sending me some power for a few moments every so often.

I think that is a really good deal and I encourage all of you to consider participating in such a program if your utility offers it. Even if your utility does not offer discounts if you allow diversion of your power, you should really take the time to explore whatever discounts your utilities may offer because, as I found out after agreeing to participate in the first program, there are a lot of programs available that can really save you some money.

When the electrical contractor who installed the shut-off switch left my house (my garage, really), he also handed me a couple of flyers with other programs which I might want to consider. I was shocked when I learned that my energy company will pay close to half of the cost of each seasonal check-up for HVAC systems. I have two HVAC systems in my home and I have them checked twice each year at a cost of $259 per year. The cost is worthwhile from my perspective because I want to know that my system is being properly maintained and I cannot do it. I have been paying for these checkups for years without knowing that I could have obtained about $100 in credits from my utility company. Had I taken the time to explore this with my utility company 8 years ago, I would be $800 richer now! Moreover, my utility will pay the first $150 in duct repair costs any time repairs are needed!

Upon further examination, I also learned that my utility company will pay a large part of the cost of improving the insulation in my home, for upgrading my windows, for replacing a heat pump and for installing reflective roof products. Moreover, all of these improvements will help me to cut down on my overall utility bills.

Of course, my utility company is probably not your utility company, but I suspect that if you take the time to explore the benefits that are available from your water, gas and/or electric utility providers, you will find that there are money saving programs available for you. For example, I found several programs available through my water company, at least one of which will save me $1700 on a $2000 bill when I update certain features in my home. I also checked the utilities that serve my parents’ community and their utilities are just as generous.

Even after you have found several programs available locally through your utility companies, you also should determine whether there are any state or federal tax credits available for any improvements that you are making to your home. Visit EnergyStar or doe.gov for more detailed guidelines from the IRS and Department of Energy.

Have you found any great rebates, discounts or credits that you were able to use in connection with a home improvement project? Do you examine all of the programs that are available from your public utilities so that you can minimize your utility bills? Have you installed solar heating or any other technologies that can reduce your bills? How are you keeping your heating bill low this winter?

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6 Responses to Utility Company Discounts Waiting for You

  1. Ann says:

    My cousin, who lives in Florida, has taken advantage of a number of utility backed and tax rebated items. They already have windows that will sustain 180 mph winds and he’s in the process of going solar. He was telling me that, between the utility company and the feds, a $40,000 job will end up costing him $10,000, which he’ll quickly be able to recoup. He also mentioned something about water, but I can’t remember exactly what he said. LOL

    I’m definitely going to be checking various things here to see what I can do, though with the snow we’re getting, I’m thinking that solar will not be an option.

  2. Monkey Mama says:

    Our heating will be low because we bought an Energy Star home. As such, we won’t be able to take advantage of anything (already got the all the energy saving features that came with the home).

    But wanted to say, that this is a great article. I am a tax preparer and every year people come in with their receipts wanting great government rebates. Every year (well except last year) I have to tell them they don’t exist. That what they really need to do is check in with their utility company. They offer much more incentives and rebates for energy efficiency than the government.

  3. Ann says:

    You’re right, Monkey Mama — the feds don’t offer nearly as much as the utility companies and some states. Anyone considering “green” changes needs to thoroughly research state, fed, utility rebates, (with some things) whether or not the utility company will buy excess energy generated (not all do), future savings on expenditures, etc., etc.

    Not exactly something that you can make a snap decision about!

  4. fern says:

    Why wait for the utility company to offer a program when you can do it yourself? Simply buy a hot water heater timer, available at Home Depot, and set the times you want oit to shut your hot water heater on or off. It works just the same as a timer on your heat thermostat. I have mine set so it only heats the water for about 3 hours a day, in the am and in the evening. I have never noticed a lack of hot water.

  5. Persephone says:

    I don’t like to waste water but I do love to garden. My landscape is full of gorgeous drought resistant plants, many of which I discovered while driving on the highway or in parking lots. Water is a precious resource. I wish more gardeners would choose drought resistant plants and resist the urge to overlook these garden work horses just because they are common.

  6. Carl says:

    I had no idea that you could get a rebate for these things. Thanks for the advice. I’m going to check with my local utility company to see if they offer something similar. I do know that if we exchange our toilets for low flow, the local water system will pay the cost for the new low flow system.

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