Rebate Basics

Occupancy-Based Thermostats Replace Outdated Setback Design

Thermostat rebates, like other rebates, are not based on specific brands. However, thermostat design is a consideration.” Kevin Thompson, Project Development Engineer at Telkonet explains, “rebate companies are no longer looking for setback thermostats on the commercial side. That wording has been dropped.

“Setback thermostats were installed, but were rarely configured to actually set back temperatures. So the utilities got burned. They gave out all this money for setback thermostats. But when they asked to be shown on the grid how well the setback stats worked, the answer was, nobody set them up. Contrast that with an occupancy-based thermostat. It is pre-configured, so you can’t turn it off. I gave one utility our cut sheets that explained our occupancy-based technology. They said, “THAT technology qualifies for our commercial program”.

Setback thermostats are on their way out, replaced by occupancy-based thermostats.


Where Do I Find Rebates?

Search for rebates available in your area. Incentives are always changing; they expire when funds run out, eventually replaced with new incentive programs.

Two Rebate Types


Prescriptive rebates are easy to apply for. However, the payout is typically lower than custom rebates.

Prescriptive rebates are based on installing approved energy-efficient equipment, or taking other energy saving measures that meet a defined set of criteria. The payout is predefined.

As Thomas Mirante, co-founder of SmartCon Solutions explains, “Prescriptive is simple. Prescriptive is, ‘if install this meter, we will give you $100. If you put this remote controller in, we will give you $50. If you put in this thermostat we will give you $75’. It’s as simple as that. And you don’t have to go through the vetting or calculations, because you’re putting in [an approved] piece of hardware…it’s  kind of a no brainer. Prescriptive incentives are super easy to get involved with.”


Custom rebates are typically worth a lot more than prescriptive rebates. They come at a cost, however. The application process is more detailed, more cumbersome. Custom rebates are based on energy savings, which has to be measured and verified-both pre-installation and post-installation in most instances.

As Mirante explains, “A custom incentive means the utility company doesn’t really have any particular rebate incentive in place for a particular application. You have to present a formulation, show them how your sequence of operation works with your solution. And you basically tell them how you came to a certain measurement of reducing a certain amount of kwh. They’ll evaluate that from an engineer’s standpoint and will decide if in fact your data is correct. Then they will grant you an incentive based on how much you are going to save, per Kilowatt per hour of electricity for instance.”