Home > Energy-efficient appliance rebate nightmare

Energy-efficient appliance rebate nightmare

April 12th, 2024 at 11:37 pm

Today I learned a valuable lesson: to be very, very careful when deciding to purchase new, energy-efficient appliances that come with a state-offered rebate. Namely, MAKE SURE your plumber is in the state program network of qualified installers, and also print out that rebate form ahead of time to get every single bit of information requested on it, preferably before installation. Or better yet, find a plumber who can offer you the "instant rebate" and take it off the price of installation right then and there.

The appliance in question is a heat pump water heater, which I like very much. It's working seamlessley and is saving me quite a lot on my electric bill.

So my state offers a $650 rebate, which is on top of the $1,115 federal tax credit you get. But the program is run by a 3rd party company located in Massachusetts. I had submitted my rebate form in January by snail mail because the yellow (3rd copy) receipt I got from my plumber was very faint and hard to read, so I made a special trip to Staples to make a better copy.

They discourage you from calling before 3 months is up, so I waited about that long before calling them this week about the status of the rebate, and they claimed they never got the application. Fortunately, I'd made copies of the form but I had to reenter all of it on their online system, but then I kept getting emails from them saying I was missing this, or I was missing that.  Then they'd send another email about something else and  had to deal with it again.

I mean, they requested information that didn't even appear on the original rebate form (!), so why are they asking for it now? They asked for info that even my plumber didn't know (the AFUE), for the old equipment, which he removed and disposed of, so I had to call the company that bought out Sears and the rep said there WAS NO AFUE number for electric hot water heaters.

They wouldn't accept the recieipt from my plumber because it didn't say "Paid in Full," it just said "Paid Ck #301." At this point, I didn't want to have to involve my plumber and I imagined it would be near impossible to get their attention for a nonpaying matter.  So I asked the rebate company if they would accept a cancelled check from my bank, and they said no. Who doesen't accept a cancelled check? That's a pretty bonafide proof of payment.

Another stumbling block, per the company, was that my plumber was not in their "network." My plumber's wife said her husband had been unaware that he had to be part of this "network" in order for me to qualify for the rebate, and so not only did they provide me a Paid in Full recept for payment, but they had also begun the process of joining the network, but apparently it was quite involved and they gave up.

In the meantime, I spent the past 2 days trying to supply this firm everything they asked for, as mentioned above, but I'd become so frustrated by their over-zealousness.

So yesterday I had a Zoom board meeting with the nonprofit group I volunteer for, and we had a few minutes to wait for others to join the call, and since I had just gotten off another stressful call with the rebate company, I started to vent about what I'd been going through. One of the board members on the call, J., spoke up. I knew he was a retired former state represenative, but what I didn't know was that he was the architect of the state rebate program that I was complaining about! He told me the name of a state senator to contact to cut thru the red tape. I mean, talk about serendipity!   I was actually getting ready to contact the senator but first I  composed a lengthy letter complaining about their process and told them it this wasn't resolved soon I would go ahead and contact not only the senator, but our state DEP and PURA (regulatory agency) as well.

As it turned out, I didn't have to do any of that. I heard from my plumber's wife tonight; when they realized how difficult joining the network would be, they reached out to their supplier and the supplier paid the $650 to the plumber, who in turn will send me a check for the same amount this weekend.

I won't now contact the senator, but I think I will follow through and contact DEEP and PURA to tell them what an uphill battle applying for this rebate was. I can't be the only one stymied by this process, and I feel sad that people are incenticized to upgrade to a more energy-efficient appliance by the rebate, only to find it nearly impossible to comply with every requirement. I am very pro-energy efficiency/pro-environment, and I think programs like this one are so valuable and helpful to residents wanting to do the right thing, IF they are well-managed.

In other news, I'm doing a litter cleanup at a nearby Nepalese monastery tomorrow. They'll be serving us a complementary Nepalese dumpling lunch, which I'm looking forward to. I recruited 3 other women from a Facebook over 50 women's group to join me.

I have my first case of poison ivy, just a single little spot on my right hand. It isn't usually that bad this time of year because the leaves have not yet come out, but I  must've touched the twiggy vertical vine thing that emerges from the ground, of which I saw many while working in the yard during the eclipse.

5 Responses to “Energy-efficient appliance rebate nightmare”

  1. LuckyRobin Says:

    I'd still talk to the senator. They need to know how hard it is to do it. What a hassle it was for you. If no one talks to the senator because they get it resolved how does that help the next person who just gives up because they don't know what further steps to take. The senator might be able to knock some sense into the rebate people.

  2. Turtle Lover Says:

    I'm glad everything worked out with your rebate. Sometimes I think "they" do that on purpose as most people would give up!

  3. Dido Says:

    Sorry about the hassle, but glad to hear about the serendipity! You have far more perseverance than me. I'm glad it worked out. I enjoyed your pics on Facebook about your group clean-up at the monastery.

  4. anonymous Says:

    I am so sorry for your bad experience in getting a rebate. I guess this was not one of the rebates you get when you file taxes.

    I got solar panels installed in 2023 and to get the federal rebate, I had to provide my tax preparer all the documentation I had on the solar panels, including the original contract, financing application, receipts for payment, and a record of all payments through 12-31-2023. It was time consuming, but I don't regret it at all. Solar power has been great for us and the tax rebate process was simpler than the nightmare I thought it would be. I have not looked into rebates for water heaters yet.

  5. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Glad it worked out.

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