Qualifying for Rebate Programs

Why Rebates Should Interest You

Energy-efficient equipment that might otherwise be beyond your budget might now be within reach thanks to rebates. (For example, instead of simply purchasing basic HVAC controllers, rebates might ultimately cover the cost of an energy management system in addition to the controllers.)  

If you are in the market for upgrades at your hotel, MDU or other commercial space with intermittent occupancy, familiarize yourself with the energy-saving incentives available to you. These incentives can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your project. Your utility company wants you to take advantage of incentives that will save energy. In fact, you as a utility customer are already paying for these programs. 

Rebates vary by state and by utility levels.  Some utilities will run their own programs depending on their size; others will outsource to other organizations to run and implement those programs.” 

Don’t leave money on the table. But be aware of your options and enter the process with your eyes wide open. 

Rebate Programs Vary

Rebates can differ WITHIN one utility. Eversource is the power provider for Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Their incentives vary by state-within the very same power provider. 

Some states are more aggressive with their energy savings goals, and they offer more attractive incentives: the East Coast—New England especially—has some fairly competitive incentive rates. The Midwest does as well.   

Occupancy Based, Not Setback Thermostats

HVAC controller rebates, like other rebates, are not based on specific brands. That said, thermostat design is a consideration. Rebate companies are no longer looking for setback thermostats on the commercial side. Utilites distributed funds for setback thermostats, and when the utility companies asked to be shown on the grid how well the setback stats worked, the answer was, nobody set them up. 

Occupancy-based thermostats have become part of the criteria for many rebate programs. 

Where Do I Find Rebates?

Search dsireusa.org for the rebates available in your area. Incentives are always changing; they expire when funds run out, eventually replaced with new incentive programs.  

Rebate Types 


Prescriptive rebates are easier to apply for, but the payout is generally less than custom rebates. Prescriptive rebates are based on installing approved energy-efficient equipment, or taking other energy saving measures that meet a defined set of criteria. The payout is predefined. 

Under the prescriptive rebate program, you might install a simple meter in each room, and they will offer you $100. If you put in this thermostat maybe it’s $75. It’s as simple as that. There’s no need to go through vetting or calculations, because you’re merely installing an approved piece of hardware. Prescriptive incentives are known to be super easy to work with. 


Custom rebates are typically worth a lot more than prescriptive rebates. They come at a cost, however. The application process is more detailed, more cumbersome. Custom rebates are based on energy savings, which have to be measured and verified-both pre-installation and post-installation in most instances. 

You will likely have to present a formulation, show them how your sequence of operation works with your solution. And you basically tell them how you came to a certain measurement of reducing a certain amount of kwh. They’ll evaluate that from an engineer’s standpoint and will decide if in fact your data is correct. Then they will grant you an incentive based on how much you are going to save, per kilowatt per hour of electricity for instance. 

Third party Assistance 

Some companies complete the application process themselves; others hire third party organizations that specialize in rebates. 

Even if you hire a third party to complete your rebate application, you will be involved to some extent, and should enter the process with your eyes wide open. 


Rebates vary by state and even region. There is no one standard process for qualifying for rebates. 

Occupancy-based thermostats like those offered by Telkonet more easily meet energy saving criteria than old fashioned time-of-day thermostats. 

Prescriptive rebates are easy to apply for, but the payout is relatively modest. 

The custom rebate application process is complicated and cumbersome and offers a larger payout. 

Rebates can mean the difference between installing energy efficient equipment or doing nothing at all. Or it can mean that instead of just purchasing basic thermostats, the budget can now include smart thermostats and an energy management system, for even more savings. 

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