Energy Incentives

Have you ever wondered about all the different incentives (besides your immediate bottom line) there are for energy efficiency and renewables?

Going to the DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency) website (see below) shows 95 different programs in Illinois to help defer the upfront cost of putting in energy saving and producing equipment.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency®

DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

In the solar energy world we like to say; “For every $1 spent on energy efficiency you will save $3 to $5 on your solar system”. Energy efficiency and energy savings are very important to look at and consider before installing solar. Doing both energy efficiency and solar can make a “Zero Energy” building in that it produces onsite enough energy to offset your annual utility energy usage.  Some months the building produces more than it needs and some months it produces less than it needs with the goal to produce up to your annual energy usage. .

This is allowed under PURPA (the Public Utilities Regulatory Participation Act of 1978, which was updated in 2002) which says utilities have to provide a credit to you when you turn the meter backwards when your solar or renewable energy system produces more than your building uses. The law was created in response to the 1970’s energy crisis to promote more use of renewable energy.

Did you know you can get a $100 off rebate for a smart thermostat like a Nest? If you turn back your thermostat 1 degree for 8 hours a day you will save 3% on your monthly bill. It is much easier to do if you have a programmable or even better a smart thermostat. Programmable thermostats you have to program while a smart thermostat like the Nest learns your habits and adjusts accordingly.

There are lots of incentives for businesses to do complete energy saving light upgrades and I will cover lighting in upcoming articles as lighting is the quick low hanging fruit.

The most popular incentive right now is SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) as it is a cash back program. Basically a solar electric (photovoltaic) system produces regular electricity that offsets your electric bill And it produces clean energy. People always ask me how they can get the utility company to pay them for energy production and the utility doesn’t but the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) does buy your clean energy based on how much you produce and that is measured in SRECs. The SRECs that are currently available (until they run out or the end of the year) covers 33% of the cost of photovoltaic system.

Along with the 30% tax credit and the 30% Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS which is an accelerated depreciation ) a business gets 93% of their money back without even counting energy savings.

I have been installing solar for 18 years and seen the cost of solar drop sharply.

I now feel like a game show host showcasing what’s behind the curtain as there is so many incentives. This makes me tingle with excitement and energy because it means I can help many more people “Get Energized!”

Aur ‘DaEnergyMon’, is a NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer™ with AES Solar in Carterville and started educating himself about renewable energy as a teenager even before (at age 15) he moved into a camper in his parents driveway to live off grid solar and ended up living off grid for 18 years. Aur understands that living how he does makes it very easy to advocate for a life of simpler living, energy efficiency and renewable energy. His name Aur (pronounced “or”) means light or to enlighten in Hebrew. Can be reached at

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