Recently, Austin Energy announced its new energy rebate program for residential homes. Rebates are given for work that may include duct sealing or duct replacement, adding additional insulation, adding solar screens on windows that get direct sun, replacing old, inefficient AC systems with more energy efficient new ones, weatherization of the building exterior, and installing radiant barriers on a case by case basis. Rebates are also given for properly weatherizing attic fans and installing programmable thermostats the utility department can control during peak cooling hours. While Austin Energy does not rebate low-e windows or attic ventilation, they do recommend that these measures be installed. They also emphasize that air flow issues be addressed to get the most out of your AC system. To encourage homeowners to improve their air flow issues, Austin energy rebates new register grilles, replacing and resizing ducts, adding dampers to ducts, and balancing air flow amongst rooms. When purchasing a new home, Austin has passed the ECAD (Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure) ordinance to help homeowners make better home buying decisions by having an energy audit done before purchasing the home. For existing home, A-Plus provides many audit options that may include only a visual assessment or be extensive to include other tests using a blower door, ductblaster, air balancing hood, or infrared camera.
As with all programs, rebates have to be budgeted every year. In Austin, the new fiscal begins each October. Since the program’s inception, Austin Energy has only had one year where it “ran out of money” but found more that year from another department. Since 1981, the home energy conservation department has been the foundation of Austin Energy. It has been realized that if you want most homeowners to do more than just replace their AC system, you need to incentivize the work. While those of us in the industry realize the importance of how much energy conservation can save on electric bills, how much more comfortable a home will be, and how much healthier and cleaner the home is, it still takes rebates to encourage most homeowners to make the decision to have the work done. If you are reading this article, and you are not from Austin, check with your utility company to see what rebates may available to you. If you do live in the Austin area, please call A-Plus Energy Management, Air Conditioning & Home Solutions at 512-450-1980 or email us at hvac99@AplusAC.com to see how we can help you.