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Updated 2020: Energy Star and RG&E Rebates for Heaters in Rochester, NY

(Originally published January 2020 - Updated May 26,2020) Today, you can receive anywhere from a hundred to a few thousand dollars in rebates for your new heater thanks to Smart Energy in Rochester, NY, and the federal Energy Star program.

These groups offer incentives for homeowners to install energy-efficient appliances that use less gas, oil, or electricity than other models. The rebates are easy to get. But, you have to choose the right equipment and make sure you apply for them correctly.

For our 2020 update, we spoke directly with Liz Rhoda, the program manager for Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) and the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG) In this post, we’ll look at:
  • Rebate opportunities in and around Rochester, NY
  • How much money you can save
  • How to apply
Along the way, we’ll get some insight directly from Liz.

Smart Energy Appliance Rebates From Rochester Gas and Electric

RG&E offers appliance rebates through its Smart Energy department for Rochester and other areas. You can get money back for a new appliance or getting your current one inspected. At a glance, you can get:
  • $500 for a new furnace
  • $600 for a new boiler
  • Up to $200 for water heaters

Water heater requirements for Smart Energy rebates in Rochester, NY

Smart Energy has three tiers of rebates for water heaters:
  • $150 for Energy Star units holding more than 40 gallons
  • $200 for indirect water heaters
  • $250 for Energy Star tankless water heaters
We’ll look at those types of heaters more in a little while.

Rebates for Thermostats, Light Bulbs and More in Rochester, NY

You can also get $75 back for a wi-fi thermostat and $25 just for getting your furnace tuned up for winter. And, you can save at point-of-purchase on lighting, plugs and more through RG&E’s Energy Savings Store. To take advantage, you just need to be a residential RG&E customer. “It’s much cheaper than going to the store,” said Liz. “You know they’ll meet the requirements, and you’ll get an instant rebate.”

Rebate Requirements

Now, you can’t just get any old appliances and expect a rebate. After all, the idea here is to get people to use less energy.

“The goal in general is that we can save our customers money by using more efficient appliances,” explained Liz. NYSEG requires utility companies in New York to meet specific energy-saving targets. It’s part of Gov. Cuomo’s green initiative, and so funding for the rebates comes through NYSEG. Along with saving money for consumers, using energy-efficient appliances also reduces impact to the environment as well as wear and tear on the infrastructure — “the grid” — that delivers energy.

“People save money and it’s less money in the long run when there are less repairs to the system,” said Liz. “It’s in everyone’s best interest” So, let’s see what’s required.

What are Energy Star appliances?

Energy Star appliances are units that meet federal EPA standards for efficiency. In the case of water heaters, this means the unit heats the same amount of water as other models that do the same job but use more energy to do it.

You’ve probably seen the blue “Energy Star” sticker with the star logo on various appliances in stores, online or even in your home already. If you see it, that means the model meets the EPA’s requirements for Energy Efficiency. Or, the yellow label that shows you how much you’ll save on your energy bills over a year.

NEEP Cold Climate Requirements for Heat Pumps

When it comes to heat pumps, the RG&E rebates are generally available to any units that meet the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) requirements for cold-climate heat pumps. If you’re not sure if the one you’re considering meets these requirements, ask your contractor before purchasing it.

In fact, having a qualified, skilled tech with a reputable company is an important part of getting the rebates. It’s a good way to make sure whatever you’re purchasing will meet the requirements, as a professional HVAC tech knows the industry inside and out. And, you’ll be sure to keep the warranties valid by using a company certified to work on that equipment.

Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency Ratings

When it comes to heating units, for instance, your new one needs an AFUE rating higher than 90 percent. AFUE stands for “Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.” It measures how much gas or oil gets used for heat, versus how much escapes through the exhaust.

Today, furnaces must have a rating of 78 percent or more (would you believe a unit 30 years ago wasted nearly half the gas it used?). A new gas furnace needs an AFUE rating higher than 94 percent to get the rebate. It also must have an electronically controlled fan motor. That’s a motor that runs on variable speeds. This way, the unit can run in an energy-saving, low-power mode.

Meanwhile, a boiler’s AFUE rating must be at least 90 percent. And, you have to be an RG&E natural gas customer to qualify. Fortunately, the product descriptions will note these ratings and specifications. And, you can always ask the HVAC company you’re using to confirm them.

Types of water heaters for rebates

Talking about the different types of water heaters is worth another blog or two on their own. But, we’ll take a quick look at traditional units along with tankless and indirect models.

Traditional Water Heater

This is what you’ve likely seen plenty of times: Water flows into a tank in the basement. It’s usually a tall cylinder. The unit heats the water and stores it in the tank. Then, when you turn on a hot water faucet, water flows from the tank through the sink or shower.

Indirect Water Heaters

These also called “integrated” or “tankless coil” units. This system doesn’t use a separate unit for water heating. Instead, when you turn on a faucet, the water gets heated by the same system that provides warmth for the entire house.

Tankless Water Heater

Think of these almost as a combination of the previous two examples. Here, there’s a dedicated unit for providing hot water. But, it doesn’t store dozens of gallons of water at once. Instead, these units warm the water only when you turn on a faucet. The water gets heated as it flows from the pipe through the unit, and then on to the tap or appliance using it.

How to apply

You can apply for your Smart Energy rebate by printing and filling out their application, attaching invoices and mailing them in. To get the rebate, you must be an RG&E residential customer. And, your new unit must meet the program’s standards. And, of course, you should make sure the unit is right for your home, and what you want.

That’s where your HVAC company comes in. At Airquip, our dedicated staff has offered personalized service and high-quality heating and cooling repair and installation to the Rochester area since 1995. Not only do we have an excellent reputation for outstanding service. We’re also certified to work on and install units by manufacturers who make Energy Star-certified products. And, we can make sure you’re getting the most out of any available rebates.

If you’re looking for the right new heating system for your home, and want to save some money on the installation, contact us today for a free consultation.
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