Taking advantage of Austin Energy’s incentives for energy efficient homes and businesses makes good financial sense. Rebates and loans are available to help Austin residents make environmentally friendly choices. In some cases, low and moderate income customers of Austin Energy can even receive free home improvements, even if they rent their homes rather than own them. By participating in one of a variety of incentive programs, homeowners can reduce their energy costs and save money while helping to keep Austin green.
Austin Energy has a longstanding and demonstrated commitment to saving energy and environmental responsibility. As a result, Austin Energy has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy to offer Energy Star rebates to qualified customers. These rebates, available on purchases of high-efficiency air conditioning and electric water heater systems, solar photovoltaic systems, solar-powered water heating systems, as well as certain energy-saving home improvements, are intended to promote the use of green technology and alternative energy sources.
The efficiency of air conditioning systems is measured by two different systems. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) provides a measure of a specific unit’s energy efficiency over the entire cooling season, and as such is a more general assessment. The Energy Efficiency Ration (EER) measures the unit’s efficiency under prolonged and constant use, as in the hottest days of summer. Austin Energy offers rebates for the purchase of new air conditioning models that achieve a SEER rating of 14 or higher and an EER rating of 11.5 or higher; some window air conditioners also qualify for these rebates. Split system air conditioners and heat pumps may also qualify if they meet these SEER and EER rating requirements. Rebates range from $50 for small window units to $650 for the most highly rated energy efficient air conditioning systems.
Solar photovoltaic technology rebates work differently than appliance rebates. Since these solar panels actually generate electricity, Austin Energy offers low-cost, no-fee loans for the purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic systems, and then gives a rebate per watt to its customers for energy returned to the electrical grid. This makes solar energy an affordable and financially sensible alternative for private homes. Photovoltaic cells create energy without polluting the environment, so they are a sound environmental choice as well.
Solar water heaters also qualify for rebates from Austin Energy ranging from $1,500 for new construction to $2,000 for installation in an existing home. These technologically-advanced water heaters also qualify for a tax rebate of as much as $1,000. Solar water heater systems must be certified by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation in order to qualify for these incentives.
To help customers decrease their energy consumption, Austin Energy also offers rebates for certain home improvements, such as adding insulation to attic spaces, air duct repair, adding caulking and weather stripping to windows and doors, and radiant barrier insulation. Low-income families can qualify to receive these energy-saving improvements free of charge as part of Austin Energy’s Power Saver Program. In order to qualify, you must meet certain income guidelines, the home to be improved must be a single-family residence, and in most cases the house cannot be valued at over $150,000. Renters who have lived in the residence for at least three months can also qualify if the landlord consents to the improvements.
Other Austin Energy programs include the Power Partners program, which gives customers a free programmable thermostat in return for allowing Austin Energy to cycle electric power usage during peak consumption periods; the Refrigerator Recycling program, and other incentives to save energy. But perhaps the most important incentives are the environmental benefits of these programs. Together with Austin residents, Austin Energy is looking to the future and working to build a greener tomorrow.