Why Many Customers Won't get Their Xcel Rebate!
Published: 04/23/2012 by Ted Gravlin
Almost every Colorado electric customer has heard by now that Xcel Energy gives rebates up to $1000 for replacing an old inefficient A/C with a qualifying new system.
Xcel has a list of contractors on their website that are enrolled in the program to install these systems. BUT, about half of that list didn’t even complete ONE rebate successfully last year! Not following the guidelines will cause you to have your rebate rejected (or not even applied for). If you are spending the money to have a new system installed, now is the time to be sure that it will qualify if you plan to get a rebate.
The reason that Xcel wants to give rebates at all is to save energy. There are tons of regulations that Xcel must follow to prove to various agencies that energy is actually being saved. If A/C systems are installed improperly there is NO energy saved and a rebate will not be given. Use a contractor that follows all of the requirements and you will have no problems.
Besides selecting a unit rated at a high enough efficiency, Xcel has four other main requirements for a new system to qualify:
1) System Sizing A load calculation must be completed before any equipment is installed. This is NOT simply the square feet of your home divided by some imaginary number. It also means that the size of your old unit has no bearing on the proper size of a new system. Research shows the 2/3 of all systems are larger than they need to be. An acceptable load calculation has to be based on ACCA’s manual J. This requires the contractor to measure (at minimum) the outside perimeter of the home along with all of the window sizes and types of construction (wood frame, double pane glass, metal doors etc).
The direction that the home faces will also make a big difference. Three homes on the same Cul de Sac facing three different directions will have three different calculated answers. We use software on a laptop in your home to make doing a proper load calc easier without arithmetic mistakes. Equipment installed must be sized correctly to the load for that home. It’s not acceptable to upsize the A/C “just because”.
It’s very common to see A/C equipment that is rated at 150% of the load. Xcel will reject that rebate every time. It must be correct. There needs to be a certificate showing that the system qualifies as a matched system at the proper efficiency.
2) Duct Sealing All exposed ducts must be sealed with mastic (sticky grey stuff) or an approved tape. If much of the conditioned air is leaking out before it gets where it’s supposed to go, the energy efficiency is much lower. In some homes sealing the exposed ducts takes only a few minutes. In others, there may be more work involved to complete this requirement. Nobody needs to knock holes in walls to work on ducts that are not exposed. The exception might be if it is clear that a duct is not connected properly inside a wall. In that case it needs to be repaired.
3) System Airflow Proper airflow must be achieved. Any A/C system must have a certain amount of total airflow for it to work at its rated capacity and efficiency. If the current duct system is under sized for the required airflow, that problem must be taken care of. For example, a 4 ton A/C requires 1600 CFM (cubic ft min) of air. We measure many duct systems that can only achieve 1000-1200 CFM. (Is 4 tons the proper size anyway?….. see above) We measure your current system’s airflow BEFORE we promise that a new one will work correctly. If’ the ducts are inadequate, steps must be taken to address it. It’s often not difficult to achieve proper airflow if the contractor is paying attention and knows what to do to make it right.
4) Refrigerant Charge The system must be charged with the proper amount of refrigerant. The testing must be done with outside temperatures above 70 degrees for accuracy. A system can be installed in cooler weather (even in winter) but the rebate paperwork cannot be completed and turned in until the system is properly tested. We use electronic gauges and digital temperature sensors to insure that the manufacturers optimal charge is met.
In order to receive the $500 rebate for trading in your old unit a few other conditions must also be met.
A) Required information from the condensing unit is:
- Make model and serial number of the old condensing unit
- Unit SEER and/or EER rating as given by the manufacturer
- The maximum qualifying SEER is 12 to qualify for the trade in rebate
- If the information about the condensing unit cannot be determined, the A/C unit will not qualify for the trade in rebate. (missing or unreadable tags on the unit is the most common problem)
B) The Trade -In A/C unit must be either operable or needs repair or replacement of components to become operable.
C) The new system must be rated at 14 SEER or above and be installed by a contractor on the Xcel Energy Central Air Conditioning List.
D) The installation must meet the quality guidelines that have been discussed.
The bottom line is that you CAN get a properly installed A/C system that will work much better than your old one. It will even save energy and qualify for all of the rebates allowed. Just have it done properly without allowing any corners to be cut.