Show Me the Rebates
Imagine making an appointment for a professional to come make your home more efficient. While there, he or she changes out all of your light bulbs to CFLs (and takes your incandescents to be properly recycled), installs new faucet aerators and showerheads that reduce water use by half, insulates your pipes so less heat is lost as water travels through them and sets up a programmable thermostat so when you leave your house your heater automatically knows to lower the room temperature. Now, imagine everything I just described - the appointment, the products, the installation and the subsequent savings on your utility bills - are all free. I have not, in fact, begun living in a fairytale world; this is a reality today.*

Many MANY monetary incentives are available for the smart home updater that is looking to incorporate more efficient elements in their home. Benefits vary greatly between regions and states and while lack of clarity has kept the participation in these programs low, the fact of the matter is that they are out there. I’ve done a little of the grunt work by pulling together some resources below so please take this chance to see what’s available to you.
To begin, with more states enacting laws that prohibit electronics from being disposed of in landfills, getting rid of old appliances is becoming increasingly difficult individuals. Fortunately, some companies, such as Power Moves, have happily modeled their business on being the middleman. They’ll pick up your old appliances and even pay you a small stipend as an incentive to call them. From there, they’ll transport it to a recycling facility where they’ll be paid for the appliance parts. It’s a win-win. Though not every program will come to your house, a great resource for finding out if you can get a rebate for recycling your old appliances is on Energy Star's website.

So, if you’re getting rid of an old appliance, logic dictates you’re probably buying a new one. There are incentives here as well. Many rebate programs are offered for purchasing a high-efficiency appliance, but the rebate checks don’t stop there. Rebates are available for insulating walls and attics, completing home energy audits, duct sealing and adding geothermal pumps, just to name a few. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiencies does an amazing job of listing options for home and business owners by state as well as presenting the information in a very digestible way. Tax incentives are also available for many of the aforementioned items. A great resource again comes from the Energy Star website.

And finally, if you’d like a better understanding of how appliance design has improved over the past few decades, I encourage you to utilize the Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator that compares the annual energy use of refrigerators from the past to high efficiency models available today.  
The incentives available to a homeowner are plentiful but often overlooked. Funding has been made possible through federal grants and mandates. These incentives are ready and waiting to be cashed in but it’s up to you to use them! If no options appear with the links above, I encourage you to contact your utility companies or municipalities to see what’s available to you.

*The specific benefits outlined here are offered by Comed & Franklin Energy’s Home Energy Jumpstart Program.

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