Believe it or not, summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to stay cool when the temps rise. If your old cooling system isn’t cutting it anymore or you’re simply looking for ways to save money on your electric bill, there are plenty of great options available.
If you’re looking to upgrade your forced-air system, replacing your heating system will ultimately benefit your cooling system, since they work together. If you’re looking to upgrade other HVAC systems, you can often forgo replacing your furnace and instead use electric air handlers.
New, high-efficiency air conditioners and furnaces are more powerful, quieter, and can help to lower energy bills. If you’re in the market for a new or upgraded cooling system, don’t miss out on rebate programs, which help customers offset the purchase cost. Here’s what you need to know about these rebate programs:
Cities often reward residents for installing new air conditioning equipment or upgrading their old system. This stands true for Fort Collins, Colorado, which has the Cooling Rebate Program (CRP) that provides cash incentives to encourage customers to opt for more efficient options.
Rebates through the CRP are offered based on the type, size, and efficiency at which air conditioners produce cooling, which is known as its SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and gauges the efficiency of your air conditioning unit. Older cooling systems have a rating of about 8 or 9 SEER, but modern ones have a minimum value of around 13 SEER to a max of 25 SEER. Some units also measure in EER, which is Energy Efficiency Ratio. The difference between EER and SEER is that the “S” stands for seasonal and measures efficiency at varying temperatures, while EER measures efficiency at one operating temperature. Generally speaking, the higher the SEER or EER rating, the greater the efficiency, and ultimately the better the rebate you can get.
Fort Collins offers rebates on multiple air conditioning systems ranging from 10 EER to 13 SEER, with 13 SEER getting a 23 percent better rebate than the 10 EER. This year, you can get rebates on multiple systems, including:
Rebates in Fort Collins are also offered by Home Efficiency Upgrades from Efficiency Works through Fort Collins Utilities. This program offers rebates of $250+ for upgrades on new system installation or replacements on units with a 12.0 EER/14.5 SEER or higher. This program also offers rebates for replacement gas furnaces with a minimum of a 5 percent increase in AFUE (higher efficiency rating) over the existing furnace.
If you’re unsure about what system you’d like to go with, consult your preferred contractor.
Don’t forget: To file a rebate with the city, you’ll have to send an application within 60 days of installation.
Another option for cooling system rebates is through utility companies. Xcel Energy, the largest electric utility in the state, for example, offers rebates to customers for installing high-efficiency cooling systems. To be eligible for this program, you must use a contractor who is registered in Xcel Energy’s cooling program. Through this program, eligible customers are able to trade in their existing air conditioners for a new unit with 14.5 SEER or higher for a $500 rebate. Customers who purchase a new 15 SEER or higher unit are eligible for a rebate of $350 or more. Some eligible customers have the opportunity to receive a rebate up to $1,150 in the form of a check.
Another option through Xcel Energy is installing an evaporative cooling system. Customers who opt for this option can be eligible for a rebate of up to $1,200 for a whole house system. Furnace rebates are also available for Xcel Energy customers, including on ENERGY STAR products.
Poudre Valley REA, a not-for-profit electric cooperative, also offers cooling rebates for ENERGY STAR products—including air conditioners. Similar to Xcel Energy, these units must also be installed by a participating contractor to be eligible for a rebate. ENERGY STAR rated air conditioners of 15 to 16 SEER could be eligible for a $100 rebate per unit, and those above 16 SEER could be eligible for a $150 rebate per unit.
In addition to cooling systems and furnaces, there are other items that can help you save money on your electric bill, such as a programmable or smart thermostat. These thermostats set back temperatures while you’re asleep or away from home to reduce energy. Occasionally, Xcel Energy will offer rebates on their wide variety of thermostats, so be sure to check their site for more ways to save.
ENERGY STAR, a government-backed program for increasing energy efficiency, is also a great resource for finding local rebates and information on all things energy efficient for your home.
If you’re not planning on moving right away, purchasing an energy efficient HVAC system can save you a ton of money in the long run. With the rebate programs available, the short-term costs don’t have to kill your wallet either.Top of Form