Would You Like To Be Paid To Save Money? Consider Energy Rebates

I’ll start by saying I’m not generally in favor of government rebates or subsidies. If investing in something does not make sense without a rebate, then the rebate will result in an inefficient allocation of resources at the expense of either the taxpayer or other rate payers.

However, right now the City of Ukiah is offering a rebate that makes sense. The City is encouraging businesses to save hundreds (or thousands) of dollars by replacing existing fluorescent (or other inefficient) light bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

I own an office building on South Orchard Avenue and I just paid $6500 to replace interior and exterior lights with LEDs. The City provided a rebate of $3395 and I expect to save about $3800 in utility expenses the first year, which more than pays for the cost of the upgrade.

The savings from utility expenses is not simply that LEDs use less than half of the required electricity to power fluorescent lights, these LED lights also run a little cooler, so the air conditioner does not have to work as hard to cool the building during the summer. While your heater will have to work a little harder in winter, the cost to heat a building (probably with gas) is far less than the cost to cool it.

And the savings don’t stop there. LED bulbs typically only need replacing about every 15 years. Not only does this save me money on the cost of purchasing new bulbs, it also saves me the labor cost of installing bulbs and because the bulbs run cooler they put less strain on the ballasts, making them last longer as well. In my case, this includes replacing bulbs and ballasts that light the parking lot and require a lift bucket to get 40 feet in the air–not an insignificant expense.

As you can see, even without the rebate this project is economically viable. The rebate is available to businesses within the city limits that have not already taken advantage of a city energy rebate. And by the way, rebates are available for a number of different commercial upgrades, as well as residential upgrades. Be aware—some rebates require prior-approval and funding is limited. Call 855.516.2105 for details. If you don’t live within the city limits, PG&E also offers rebate programs. There’s a vast array of rebates that the city and/or PG&E will pay for to reduce expenses and make you and your family a little greener (environmentally and economically). Look for rebates when upgrading light bulbs, appliances, air conditioning units and attic insulation. This is a win-win if you like paying less and getting more, and helping the planet while you’re at it.

Remember, some upgrades may be cost effective even without a rebate. If you’d like to know how your home or business could reduce its energy usage, there are numerous businesses that will survey your residence or commercial building and let you know what they recommend, not only which improvements or retrofits to make but also whether financial assistance is available in the form of rebates, tax credits or low-interest loans. A word to the wise, don’t get your hopes up too much; most retrofits aren’t eligible for much if any assistance. It doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.