Rebates help lessen upfront costs in trying to lower electric, gas bills

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published February 10, 2016

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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METRO DETROIT — With the cold weather has come higher electric and gas bills, but both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy have a variety of tips and rebate programs to entice homeowners to purchase energy-saving appliances and upgrades.

At DTE Energy, Manager of Residential Energy Efficiency Programs Luis Salas said that in total, the company offers 11 programs for rebates and energy savings.

“Efficiency is important for all customers,” Salas said. “How efficient your energy use is in your home is something customers should be aware about, and our goal is to offer options to help improve that efficiency.”

Lighting, Salas said, is the most-often-used rebate because the rebate on a new lightbulb is offered at the point of sale at most retail stores in the area. See the DTE website, www.dteenergy.com, for more information and a list of local retailers. The bulb rebates start at 25 cents for compact fluorescent bulbs and $3 for light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs. Consumers Energy offers the same rebate at the point of sale for lightbulbs. People may use only one rebate per item.

At Consumers Energy, rebates on appliances like washers can be $25, while a high-end, energy-efficient gas boiler has a $900 rebate. Consumers Energy spokesman Brian Wheeler said that investing in an expensive appliance can cause one to pause, but it may be worth it in the end, as an energy-efficient home can save up to 20 percent on bills each month.

However, a cheap investment, Wheeler said, is insulation, which can bring a $10-$125 rebate and keep heat in the home during the cold months.

“People think they have to make a major investment to save money, but really, insulation may be one of the most cost-effective things to do,” he said. “It is less expensive and keeps heat in your home and keeps costs down.”

Likewise, Wheeler said that windows and doors are a good investment to keep as much warm air inside, with rebates ranging from $15 for each door and $40 for each window.

“Older homes have gaps around the windows and doors that warm air escapes through and can drive up your costs,” he said. “If you have an eighth-of-an-inch gap around an entire door, that is like having a softball-size hole in the door.”

As far as DTE Energy appliance rebates, Salas said that for items such as air conditioners, furnaces and water heaters, rebates range between $100 and $400 depending on the equipment type.

One rebate program that has been offered recently with the integration of technology is a $50 rebate at both companies for Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, which allow homeowners to program and change the thermostat settings wirelessly and while away from home.

“The existing programmable ones, from a customer-experience perspective, they tend to be more challenging with changing the programming and not as user friendly,” Salas said. “The Wi-Fi-enabled ones come with an app and are more intuitive in updating your temperature, even when you are away from the home, and offer a level of convenience, because if you forgot to change the settings, you can do it anywhere, anytime.”

While what rebate a customer wants to take advantage of depends on how much of an investment they are willing to make, Salas said DTE does offer a new mobile application that taps into a customer’s systems and shows them where to find the biggest “energy vampires.”

“If your refrigerator is old and consuming more electricity, we offer rebates on that, but you have to know first,” he said. “You can get real-time information on your electric use with the app and see spikes in usage when you turn things on, or how much energy an air conditioner or sump pump is using.”

Ultimately, Wheeler said, by offering rebates, utilities like Consumers Energy and DTE give homeowners extra motivation to save money over the long run.

“We know that energy efficiency is a great way for people to reduce their bills,” he said. “Rebates help reduce those upfront costs, because sometimes you have to make an investment to save money down the road.”

For more information about the rebates offered, visit www.consumersenergy.com/save or www.dteenergy.com and click on the “Save Energy” tab.

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