In about three-fourths of the United States, utilities or energy-efficiency organizations offer a commercial lighting rebate program, according to rebate fulfillment firm BriteSwitch, which recently compiled its 2022 North American rebate database.
These rebates are offered to reduce demand and avoid costly new power plant construction. While custom rebates are available, the most common rebate type is prescriptive, which means a nominal cash amount is offered as an incentive to install a qualifying energy-efficient product. A majority of programs are downstream, so the owner receives the payment. Some are midstream, incorporating the rebate at the point of sale, and typically promote very common lamps and luminaires.
Generally, commercial lighting rebates promote installing energy-efficient products in existing buildings. Depending on the program and technology, they typically cover 10%–70% of the lighting product cost and improve lighting upgrade payback by an average of 20%–25%, according to BriteSwitch.
By reducing initial cost, return on investment increases, making investment more attractive and the owner more likely to approve it.
Commercial lighting rebates are available in 77% of the United States, up from 74% in 2021. Holdouts include Alaska, Kansas, North Dakota, West Virginia and, more recently, Ohio, which discontinued its rebates at the end of 2020 after passing a controversial law.
Looking at overall 2022 trends, LED rebates are relatively flat for a second year after declining due to falling product costs. Horticultural lighting rebates are becoming more available and prescriptive. Lighting control rebates remain consistent, while networked lighting control rebate availability continues to expand.
The most popular commercial lighting rebates continue to be for replacement lamps, troffers/flat panel, downlight, wall mount, parking garage, outdoor pole-arm mount and high-bay luminaires.
According to BriteSwitch’s database, average rebates per installed product remained fairly stable in 2022, which may be due to reduced demand for rebates and increasing prices due to supply chain disruption.
The number of horticultural lighting rebates tripled in 2022. Rebate amounts declined an average of about 25%, but remain substantial. A significant number of programs transitioned from custom to prescriptive, making the rebates easier to obtain. As in previous years, most 2022 rebate programs require a product’s inclusion on the DesignLights Consortium’s (DLC) Qualified Products List. The list is transitioning in 2022 as Version 5.1 of the technical requirements take effect, which requires a majority of products be dimmable.
Rebates for lighting controls continue to be widely available and consistent, according to the BriteSwitch database. Popular rebates include remote-mounted, wallbox and luminaire-mounted occupancy sensors; photocells; and daylight dimming systems.
While DLC listing is not required for controls, several years ago the DLC launched a Qualified Products List for Networked Lighting Controls. The number of programs available for this category increased 16% in 2022. As with previous years, rebate programs are employing several approaches, with a per-connected luminaire (typically troffers and bay luminaires) rebate adder being most prevalent.
The rebate process requires administrative resources or outsourcing to a rebate fulfillment firm. According to BriteSwitch, the rebate process can take 5 months to complete.
To get the most out of rebates, learn the program and its requirements, and keep tabs on changes and funding levels. Pre-approval is often required before installation begins and can take 3–4 weeks. All forms must be properly completed. In some regions, participation may drain funds early. If DLC or Energy Star listing is required, confirm the selected product’s exact model number is listed.
Inspection may be required to verify installation. Be careful about taking the rebate amount off the invoice, as rebates are not guaranteed or may pay out a lower-than-expected amount.
To determine rebate availability in your area, contact local utilities and energy efficiency organizations.