So… knowing that incentive programs and rebates are often not a primary driver of home performance sales...

I’m curious how contractors HAVE effectively used high efficiency incentives and rebates as a arrow in your quiver to increase close rates, sell deeper/better projects, etc. Could be from programs, manufacturers, special financing like PACE, or others.

  • How/when do you first communicate with your customers about incentives or special rebates?
  • Do you adjust your proposals if there are lots of incentives available? Like adding on a “smart” thermostat, or using premium equipment if your manufacturer gives you special pricing?

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you mean "arrow in your quiver"?

Ha, yes! Thank you - fixed. I guess bows & arrows are not my specialty:)

In my opinion, home performance sales are significantly driven by rebates and incentives. It would be interesting to evaluate the relationship between rebate levels and participation. My guess is that the relationship is very close, with higher rebate levels strongly associated with higher participation, and vice versa. Looking at NJ's HP program this certainly appears to be the case. My hazy recollection is that Robert Cialdini mentions this being a research finding in one of his books. This is not really surprising - a core tenet of neoclassical economics is that people respond to incentives. The notion that these incentives will inspire a "market transformation" that fosters high levels of participation absent incentives is (IMO) likely counter to evidence from utility-sponsored programs and very basic human psychology. 

Re - your questions. I communicate as soon as these incentives seem like they could potentially be useful to the client. I also avoid doing stupid stuff just because the rebates are available. Ex. our local HP program broadly incentivizes the installation of heat pumps over combustion appliances (site vs source energy is a tricky metric). However, these have higher operating costs than natural gas appliances. Within our program this fosters a lot of confusion regarding heat pumps. Most contractors appear to believe that home performance incentives broadly align with customer interests, which is simplistic and false. The basic framework I use for work scopes is --- societal benefit > customer benefit > integration of incentives. 

State and Federal Energy Rebates

The state of Florida just announced a HVAC rebate on high efficiency equipment as long as you choose a qualified system and use a qualified installer! These types of rebates exist in almost all 50 states and you just need to to find them! You may end up paying a bit more for a higher efficiency HVAC system, but the rebates may save you thousands over the lower efficiency unit! Look at these common state and federal energy rebates.

Consider Various Ways to Pay for a New System

For starters, you can see if you qualify for government grants like the Federal Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program.This program assists low-income Americans with their heating and cooling expenses by providing small grants to help people catch up on energy bills and pay the costs of replacing old systems.

Invest in Maintenance for an Older System

In tight circumstances, you may not be able to afford a new system, even if your existing one is in need of repair. While upgrading to a new HVAC unit is your best option, you can still prolong the life of your old unit by scheduling regular maintenance. Most experts recommend servicing your HVAC system at least once a year. For units that need extra love and care, however, aim for scheduling your service in the spring and fall. This will ensure your system is ready to run at the start of the heating and cooling season.


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