According to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, utilities and energy efficiency organizations spent $74 million on commercial prescriptive lighting rebates in the United States and Canada. Currently, 79 percent of the United States is covered by an active commercial lighting rebate program. These rebates reduce the initial cost of investing in energy-efficient lighting and controls in existing buildings, shortening payback by 20-25 percent, according to BriteSwitch.
For lighting, programs have shifted to LED. Reflecting market price erosion, average rebates per product have been falling over time (see Table 1), though average rebate dollars have leveled out in 2018. The most popular lighting rebates are LED retrofit lamps, downlights, accent lights, high-bays, parking garage luminaires, wall-mount, and linear panels. In 2017, the DesignLights Consortium introduced the DLC Premium Classification to recognize the most efficacious products. Some utilities are now offering higher rebates to promote DLC Premium products, while a few have taken the leap of requiring DLC Premium.
Lighting control rebates, meanwhile, continue to be widely available (covering about 74 percent of the country) and, in terms of average rebate dollars, consistent. Over the past eight years, rebates tracked by rebate fulfillment firm BriteSwitch have not seen any appreciable decrease in average rebates.
As shown in Table 2, the most popular lighting control rebates continue to be occupancy sensors, light sensors, and daylight dimming systems. The average rebate for controls is fairly high when one considers their cost, positioning them as an attractive add-on to a retrofit. In some cases, such as high-bay lighting, the rebate can almost completely cover the cost of adding a luminaire-mounted occupancy sensor.
In 2017, rebate programs began to introduce the first rebates rewarding installation of networked lighting control (NLC) systems, based on the DLC’s specification and Qualified Products List (QPL). According to the DLC, as of August 2017, more than 20 programs required NLCs to be on the QPL, and about a dozen of these created new rebates for the technology.
According to BriteSwitch, in 2018, this number has grown to 21 programs, which are experimenting with different approaches. Some programs offer a rebate as a bonus when installing new luminaires, while others recognize NLCs as a standalone system rebate. As of April 2018, 34 NLC systems were listed on the QPL from 22 manufacturers, including Lighting Controls Association members Acuity Brands, Audacy, Cree, Eaton, GE, LSI Industries, Lutron, OSRAM, Philips (Signify), RAB, Synapse Wireless, and Wattstopper/Legrand.
Rebates for NLCs are now available in New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Washington, Colorado, and Utah. Rebate amounts, approaches, and qualifications vary by rebate program. Some specifically target networked controls, while others incorporate luminaire-level lighting controls.
The first step to getting a rebate is to do the initial homework to learn what’s covered by the rebate and the program’s process. Researching available rebates is essential before formulating a lighting upgrade proposal so as to ensure appropriate lighting controls are considered as an integral part of the project.
Note pre-approval is often required by the rebate program, which takes time. Be sure to fill out all necessary forms accurately to avoid holdups. In some regions, participation may drain funds early, making it worthwhile to check on rebate availability. Similarly, the rebate check may not arrive for a designated period of time. These and other detailed requirements should be explored prior to the project.
Overall, rebates remain a strong incentive to incorporate lighting controls into lighting upgrade projects. They are substantial, historically consistent, recognize the most popular control types, and geographically widely available. New rebates promoting networked lighting control are now growing in availability, specifically promoting the most advanced control options in the market.