Lighting Rebates Going Strong

In 2016, lighting rebates covered 79% of the United States, according to BriteSwitch. In 2017, LED rebates are expanding, while rebate per product is falling and control rebates remain relatively constant.

In 2016, many programs began to focus heavily on LED products, with some today now exclusively promoting LED. The top LED rebates are replacement lamps, downlights, accent lights (trackheads), and high-bays. New rebates are emerging to cover LED wall-mount and mogul-base (HID replacement) lamps. Reflecting falling LED product costs, the average rebate per LED product has been falling by 10% to 20% per year, according to BriteSwitch; additionally, some programs may cap LED rebates based on end-user cost or payback periods. Many programs qualify LED products based on criteria developed by the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), Energy Star, and Consortium for Energy Efficiency. About 94% of rebate programs for LED screw-in replacement lamps use Energy Star, while 60% to 80% require DLC, depending on the product type.

In contrast, lighting control rebates remain relatively constant, with average rebates often covering a significant portion of the installed cost. The most popular control rebates cover occupancy sensors, light sensors, and daylight dimming systems. Control products typically do not have to meet stringent third-party criteria, although some criteria may be imposed, such as hardwiring, minimum wattage controlled per control point, and/or UL listing. Many utilities are adjusting the minimum wattage down in recognition of LED lighting’s reduced wattage; some are eliminating the hardwiring requirement, allowing wireless controls. According to BriteSwitch President Leendert Jan Enthoven, some utilities are experimenting with midstream rebate programs to reduce cost and expand reach. These programs require customers to buy lighting through specific program partners to get the rebate, which is then taken off the invoice from a participating distributor.

“For distributors and contractors, these midstream programs bring new levels of complexity, since they are now responsible for the rebate process instead of the end-user,” Enthoven said. “They need to make sure they get the correct utility bills, tax IDs, and location information and submit it to the utility in a timely fashion. They also have to take the rebate off the invoice, which is risky in case the customer does not install the product in time or in a different location, and it is noticed during post inspection. The distributor is on the line here.”

To support a customer seeking a rebate, get to know the local program early, including its incentives, qualifications, deadlines, and process. Also, stay on top of current funding, as about 10% of programs run out of money during the year. According to BriteSwitch, pre-approval is required by about 80% of rebate programs, a process that takes 29 days on average. It can take 10 to 12 weeks to receive the rebate check after installation. If the utility maintains a network of trade allies (qualified service providers), consider participating in that network.

Learn more about rebates by visiting — C.D.

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