Guide to Maximizing your Green Rebate Money

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It’s the holidays so here’s a guide to some free money on your next real estate investment project.  First, two recommendations to take full advantage of this guide:

1. Have someone else do the majority of the work/research. Hiring a college intern is usually the most effective and cheapest method to get this accomplished.  Better to pay them $10/hr and get 5 solid hours of research from someone used to research (college student) than spending your time on it.  The guide below is designed specifically so that you can hand it off to someone else and

2. Set the right question parameters so answering the questions for your intern is easy.  It sounds so simple but asking the right questions will go a long way to ensure you max your rebates. For example the following question forms (remember high school?) are clearest and easiest to follow:
“List all” (Simple, list everything)
“Yes/No” (1 of 2 answers only)
“Who does..” (Requires a name/position, very clear)

These question forms are too vague and shouldn’t be used:
“How..” ( How do you get to Phoenix?  Tons of potential answers, too unclear)
“What..” (What’s on the menu at Burger King?  Burgers…Too easy to give an incomplete answer).

THE MAX REBATES GUIDE (what to find out and what to do):

  1. Who is the current Utility provider?
  2. Is the area deregulated? Can you choose whichever utility company you want?
  3. If deregulated list all other utility providers  programs so we can see which are the most beneficial for rebates.
  4. Identify the type of property rebates available (residential, multi-family or commercial)
  5. Identify all products or upgrades that may have rebates available.
  6. Identify applicable utility (electricity/gas/water) companies for subject property.
  7. Identify applicable city offices for subject property.
  8. Identify City Manager (name, email, phone).
  9. Identify City Mayor (name, email, phone).
  10. Check for all applicable programs for subject property.
  11. Go to each programs web site to make sure content is updated.
    • a. City
    • b. State
    • c. Federal
    • d. Utility
    • e. Funding
  12. Google ‘subject city’ and each of these ‘Water’, ‘Electric’, ‘Gas’, ‘Utility’ with ‘Rebates’ to determine specific  available incentive programs.
  13. Save the rebate application and qualifying models list
  14. Check for any ‘custom programs’ (program that you can submit your EE plan to for rebate, usually involves a pre-inspection of building)
  15. Contact all rebate program administrators via phone to explain the scope of your project
  16. Check to see if any rebate is performance based and may need pre-inspection or benchmarking
  17. Check when funding runs out or starts so you are eligible for the rebate
  18. Check for any special instructions (Must be filed within 1 month of purchase, for ex)
  19. Contact City Mayor/City Manager:
    • What incentive programs are available?
    • Is there Stimulus money available?
    • What is their decision making process?
  20. Prepare all rebate applications
  21. Organize all receipts on equipment purchased
  22. Application information audit
  23. Prepare application for signatures
  24. Sign and submit
  25. Schedule all follow-up calls (bi-weekly is best)
  26. Get rebates checks in
  27. Spend rebate money on mai-tais in Hawaii.

Photo: Jeremy Levine

About Author

I help real estate investors increase profits and property values through a variety of green strategies. I help clients find hidden rebates, tax incentives and credits to maximize returns on any property.

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