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Currently the Department of Energy has been handing out major subsidies and edicts to state and local power companies, which are typically government monopolies. Regardless of what one may think about these policies, they have created opportunities for individuals to reduce their energy costs in various ways by taking advantage of incentives these power companies have put in place in accordance with federal guidance. Power companies typically will offer programs above and beyond what the government requires in order to enhance their perception as being “green” and improve customer experience. The first thing to do is check your local utility provider(s) respective websites. They typically have a page listing the rebates and incentives they offer for increasing energy efficiency, e.g. Georgia Power lists rebates and incentives for residential customers here.

Most government-subsidized power companies will send a technician for free upon request to do an assessment of your home’s energy efficiency and provide a list of recommendations, most of which are doable by the average person. The technician will identify leaky pipes, insulation, etc. and generally ensure all major appliances are working optimally. He may recommend improvements like installing weather-stripping to seal gaps in doors, metallic tape to seal up leaks in your hot water heater, socket sealers, etc. You may as well take the free guidance before you embark on any home improvements even if you feel you can assess the home yourself.

Replacing aging or outdated appliances with new, more energy-efficient ones can also pay dividends over the long run, especially for those with large or older homes that tend to be less efficient generally. This is one area utility companies will typically offer to recycle your old appliance and give you a substantial rebate, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars. Here is one example from Georgia Power:

Georgia Power customers can take advantage of up to a $550 rebate when they convert their existing gas water heater to a hybrid electric heat pump water heater with a 50 gallon tank or greater hybrid electric heat pump water heater with an efficiency rating of 2.0 or greater.

Another typical offer from the same source offers customers who are upgrading to an energy efficient refrigerator free recycling of the old refrigerator plus a $50 rebate.

Making home improvements to improve energy efficiency should be part of everyone’s long-term plan to control their energy costs, but know that in addition to the savings on your power bill, there are powerful (pun intended) incentive programs that will give you immediate savings in addition to the long-term savings you’ll reap by making these investments.

Logan Hertz works as a business strategy consultant in Atlanta and freelances as a personal finance expert.  If you are interested in clever, easy ways to increase your income and reduce your costs, email him.

© 2015 Logan Hertz – permission to reprint is gladly given, provided the author is given credit

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