Searching Beyond the Rebates


The business case for energy efficiency is already a strong one, yet it becomes even stronger when rebates or other incentives are available through local utilities or the government.  These programs, which can often cover up to half the total cost of a project or more, are a good place to start when prioritizing energy efficiency projects.

Our most recent audit, however, taught us a valuable lesson:  to search beyond the rebates.

Our client, a furniture store in the Boston area, was using metal halide bulbs to light the exterior of his store at night.  In addition to needing to replace many of the bulbs, the store owner also needed to rewire the fixtures.  Significant rebates were available to replace the metal halide bulbs with LED lamps, but not for the wiring or for an alternative option that RenewThink suggested –  solar powered commercial flood lights.

The solar powered lights we wanted to recommend offered several benefits.  They would use no electricity, as opposed to the 100 Watts used by each of the 14 fixtures.  Installing solar lights would also negate the need to replace all of the wiring necessary for the LEDs, and the solar lights have a much longer lifespan.  Unfortunately, however, no rebates were available to help cover the cost of these lights.

In the end, we suggested these lights to our client as a potential option and were pleasantly surprised by his interest in installing solar lights, despite the fact that they would take longer to pay for themselves.  He really liked the fact that he and his staff could install them on their own and that he wouldn’t need to replace any wiring now or in the future.  We especially liked the fact that they would use absolutely no energy.


You may be wondering why rebates would be available for LED lights but not for solar lights, which reduce demand for electricity even further.  So did we.  For now, we were told that incentives were not available for these lights because they operated off the grid.  Hopefully, in the future, that will be a reason for a project to be eligible for incentives.


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