Have you ever wondered why electric companies offer rebates to customers who cut down on energy consumption? It almost doesn’t seem to make sense. Most corporations try to increase their customers’ usage of the products and services they sell, not convince customers to cut back.
In fact, electric companies in Texas, and more specifically, electric companies in Houston, are among the many utilities that offer substantial financial rebates for customers who conserve energy. Electric companies in Houston, for example, even encourage customers to install energy-efficient systems like programmable thermostats, smart meters, and other items that reduce energy waste.
Reasons for Efficiency Rebates Here are some of the main reasons that utilities, electric companies, and other energy providers offer efficiency rebates:
- Local Laws: In some states, there are laws on the books that require utility companies to offer energy-efficiency rebates to any customers who reduce consumption, no matter how they do it. Every state has its own set of regulations but the majority of U.S. states require at least one or two kinds of rebates to encourage energy conservation.
- Good Customer Relations: Most energy providers offer rebates not because a local law demands it but because rebates make customers happy. Happy customers don’t switch to another provider, so incentives are a smart way to stay profitable. For example, ask yourself whether you’d return to a car dealership where you suspected the salesperson of overcharging you or to the dealership where the staff treated you well and gave you a discounted price on a car. Of course, most consumers will stick with a company that strives to help them save money.
- Supply & Demand: For some utilities and other energy providers, the supply of electricity they have at any given time is limited. In situations like these, it’s wise to encourage consumers to cut down on usage so that the overall supply won’t be strained.
- Economics: Utility companies face staggeringly high costs when they decide to build new power plants. One way to get around this dilemma is to encourage current customers to reduce their power consumption. That way, the company won’t have to build a new plant to produce extra energy, but can simply offer financial incentives to customers who cut back. The cost of the incentives, from the utility’s point of view, is much less than the cost of building a brand new power plant. So, it’s sometimes a matter of basic economics rather than marketing.
How Customers Achieve Energy Efficiency and Get Rebates
Fortunately, there are dozens of ways for individuals and businesses to get energy rebates from electric companies in Houston and elsewhere. In many cases, the methods are as simple as installing some type of “smart” device that monitors consumption. Other strategies involve cutting down on power usage at peak periods and similar techniques.
The most common ways people reduce their energy consumption include the following:
- Buy office equipment that is energy-efficient: For major appliances like refrigerators, office printers, and similar items, try to purchase products that are energy efficient and carry an official rating saying so. Some appliances might not consume very much power, but in the long run, having an efficient appliance can save you a considerable amount of money.
- Have an energy audit performed: Having a thorough energy audit can save businesses and homeowners big bucks. That’s because the auditor will check for things like air leaks, places where energy-efficient lighting can be installed, and old insulation that needs to be replaced. Some large corporations, and many homeowners, have an energy audit performed once per year.
- Shut off lights when not in use: Some companies and individual homeowners use sensor lights to automatically turn lights off in empty rooms. If you don’t have these handy devices yet, be careful to periodically check every room in the home or office for wasted lights. Look in bathrooms, conference areas, break rooms, and storage closets to make sure lights are only turned on when they need to be.
- Use fans: When you use fans in your home or in offices, it takes the strain off heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Air that is circulating throughout the space tends to spread out the air-conditioned, cool air or heated air more evenly. That way, you get the maximum use from your heater or air conditioner. And in the summer, fans can actually take the place of air conditioning on days that are only moderately warm.
- Install programmable thermostats: These inexpensive items really pack a punch when it comes to saving energy. Using them is a smart way to make sure that you don’t heat or cool an area when no one is there. Businesses who have only one shift of workers can vastly reduce power consumption by installing a programmable device that monitors and sets temperature ranges throughout the daytime and nighttime hours.
Looking at the Big Picture
Electric companies in Texas and, specifically, Houston, are among the many energy providers that offer efficiency rebates. As more and more consumers take advantage of these programs to save money on their monthly utility bills, more and more companies will offer incentives. For many years, similar rebate programs have been a “win-win” for utility companies and consumers alike.
Depending on where you live, you might have access to multiple financial incentives for reducing your energy consumption. It makes good economic sense to take advantage of every incentive available to you during any season. If you are unsure what incentives exist, simply call your energy provider and ask.