Volume 46, Issue 6 - July/August 2007

Window Guy
A dealer’s perspective
by R. Mark Reasbeck, owner of Coyote Springs Window and Doors of Las Vegas. Mr. Reasbeck’s comments are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

An Inconvenient Spoof?
Uncovering What an Energy Star® Rebate Entails

If you’re not a first-time reader, you know nothing is sacred with me. I will take on anything that I feel is a disservice, false claim or in some way misleading to the general public, and, specifically, our industry. So, that being said (see Shelter August 2006, page 56), I want to take on Energy Star®. Yes, sir—the Big Blue Partner has some explaining to do.

The Rebate Debate
My inspiration for this subject was birthed in a discussion on how the larger, top ten builders are literally sending out packets to their subcontractors, containing every category of product in the house. For instance, next to “Windows,” there is a blank space for the brand name and the available rebate amount that is to be filled in by each subcontractor. 

Years ago, I was involved with a window company that supplied product to what was then U.S. Home, now part of Lennar Corp., and they demanded a rebate in order to conduct business. Since it was not offered by the supplier, we just added the required 3 percent to the front end of the bid, and took it off at the rear. (Somehow that just doesn’t sound right.) 

Rebate and Switch
My personal feeling is that we are misspelling the word “rebate.” We need to use the word “Re-bait.” Sure, this works because it means “baiting the hook … again.” Most of us who chase the rebate are not first-time offenders; we’re a sucker for “something for nothing,” kind of like what the builders are looking for.

The media has buzzed and run-a-muck with how there are all kinds of rebates for using Energy Star products. This is somewhat true. After some extensive research by Larry, one of my window reps, and me, we couldn’t find a single rebate offered directly from Energy Star. Its website informed us of the following disclaimer: “The EPA and DOE do not provide financial incentives for Energy Star-qualified products,” and, “The financial incentives are available from utilities and other energy-efficiency sponsors.” I don’t know about your power company, but our power company only knows how to put money in its own pocket, then it’s padlocked.

Most of the time, in my world, I live by logic and common sense. I decided to search the available rebates from the various states, hoping to find some sort of pattern on windows in particular.

I started with the “mother” of all states, California. I pulled up the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and discovered its “Consumer Rebate Program.” The site had nice drawings, a detailed form and noted that you get $300 for a two-speed pool pump. Now, if you replace your windows at the tune of $500 per opening, you get a generous $1 per square-foot for low-E, dual-pane windows with a U-value of 40 or below. So, if Grandpa replaces 12 windows in his house, the grandkids may live to see the savings. Replacing the air conditioning unit garners a C-note.

Next I went to a cold climate, in “don’t-cha-know, Minnesota.” This one got me excited. “And to help you make this important investment in energy efficiency, Alliant Energy will give you $20 (two rolls of quarters) per qualifying window or sash.” Pack up the kids, Rita, we’re going to Hai-wah-ya with the rebate money from the new windows. I couldn’t even find a window rebate for my home state of Nevada. 

Rethinking Things
So is the Energy Star program really about saving energy, or is it to stimulate the economy? Just a thought, because the LADWP program is “designed to both educate and encourage our residential customers to purchase and install qualifying products in their homes,” according to its website. So maybe there is an Energy Star conspiracy. If so, who are the partners?

I told you, nothing is sacred. Now, go buy a new pool pump.

© Copyright 2007 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.