Trends In Utility Incentive Programs

April 7, 2005
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AUSTIN, Texas - Utility companies are happy to provide incentives to consumers for purchasing high-efficiency HVAC equipment - but there is a catch.

"We can't assume that energy efficiency can be achieved unless equipment is installed and maintained correctly," said John Taylor, residential program manager for the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). Taylor presented a seminar on utility trends during the ACCA 37th Annual Conference & Indoor Air Expo.

He said it is important that consumers and contractors know as much as possible about high-efficiency equipment in order to save money on energy bills, especially during peak demand periods.

He said CEE has been working with the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) to identify high-efficiency equipment. Information for contractors and consumers can be found at www.ceehvacdirectory.org.

Taylor stated that CEE continually tries to bundle its services to include technician certification programs and identify the contractors who employ certified technicians.

Key Trends

Taylor identified some of the current trends in utility incentive programs, including:

  • More funding for efficiency.

  • Increased focus on peak demand reduction.

  • Long-term effect/market transformation.

  • Efficiency as a resource.

  • Partnering with industry groups such as ACCA.

    Taylor said the goal of consumer education is not to make a sale, adding, "We want to change the consumer's understanding of the products rather than just selling the products."

    He supports in-field verification of proper equipment installation, including inspection by a third party. "Energy savings is the benefit of a correct installation," Taylor said.

    He said that, in general, utilities prefer to stay away from the HVAC market and concentrate more on rebates and efficiency.

    "Rebates have been the bread and butter of utilities because the programs are easy to administer," he noted.

    He added these new trends have positive implications for HVACR contractors, giving them access to more resources for proper installation and maintenance of equipment, as well as opening up more opportunities for partnering and access to certification training and testing.

    Publication date: 04/11/2005

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