With the green movement in full swing across the country, it is not surprising that incorporating energy saving and improved efficiency measures has trickled into condominium development. Today, many buildings in the Chicagoland area pride themselves for having a variety of eco-friendly features ranging from green roofs, the use of sustainable materials and recycling on-site.
While not all residential condominium buildings are built 'green” from scratch, there are numerous national and state wide energy efficiency, energy conservation and sustainability-encouraging programs available to residents. These programs often offer large rebates to help offset the initial costs of implementing the green products and technologies and doing so can greatly ease the burden of large utility bills.
With hundreds of incentive programs out there, it may seem like a daunting task finding one that fits the needs and goals of residents and the community. Doug Widener, executive director of the Illinois Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), says that the first place to start would be with your utility company, many of which offer rebates and incentives to residents in the city and suburbs. Most companies have an entire web page dedicated to energy efficiency where boards and residents can search for programs that fit their particular circumstances.
Nicor Gas offers its customers rebates up to $1,500 for installing qualifying energy efficient equipment. Their Summer Staycation Program, running for a limited time until September 30th, features rebates up to $500 for purchasing and installing a qualifying natural gas furnace, $600 for a natural gas furnace and central air conditioner that meet certain requirement, as well as many more. “With this program customers have more and higher rebate opportunities than we have seen in the past,” says Chad Bulman, a Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program representative in Chicago. “The summer is not normally a time when residential customers spend a lot o f time thinking about natural gas equipment, they are more worried about cooling and air conditioning. We created this promotion to give customers a reason to consider their natural gas equipment during a time of year when they usually don't. We wanted them to have an opportunity to anticipate their heating costs of this winter and give them a reason to think ahead and plan for equipment replacement before they get caught with an emergency,” Bulman adds.
In addition, Nicor also has a Home Energy Efficiency Program offers cash rebates to existing Nicor Gas customers if they choose to replace their old natural gas equipment such as furnaces, water heaters and boilers, with newer, higher efficiency alternatives says Bulman.