Customers reluctant to try out new lighting technology might change their mindset if they think of these incentives as getting paid to save energy.

Lighting is only a portion of the energy-efficiency initiatives available to your local residential and commercial communities, but with Daylight Savings Time ending next month, it can be top of mind with your customers.  While solar panels might be getting a lot of attention in many neighborhoods, lighting rebates from regional utilities are worth exploring. 

Most consumers have been aware of the incentives offered for switching to CFLs (some of these are still available). Many tried the CFLs offered by their local utility companies and weren’t thrilled with the results — and that negative experience is making some homeowners shy away from wanting to try LED.

Just as with CFL, one of the barriers to widespread adoption of LED is cost. With rebates putting dollars back into consumers’ pockets, customers may be more willing to give LED a chance — but that’s not the only hurdle. Another challenge has been the wide spectrum in quality.  For that reason, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and other California utility companies have set parameters, only offering rebates for pre-qualified LED lamps and fixtures that meet stringent performance specifications such as those validated by third-party ENERGY STAR testing.

Utilities in California, New York, Florida, and Massachusetts are the states spending the most money in rebate incentive programs. It is expected that as the LED market matures, more utilities in other states will get on board. While public interest (among residential and commercial customers) in LED is high, what is slowing the momentum is the lack of standardization in LED products. Groups such as the Consortium for Energy Efficiency and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have reported that North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arizona, and Ohio are in the process of either increasing their spending for LED rebates/programs or creating new ones.

One of the best tools to use is the Web site from Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (www.dsireusa.org). The Web site was created in 1995 and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center. It is a source of information on the various policies and incentives nationwide; however it is in the midst of major redesign and overhaul that will not be ready for public viewing until December.