Associations Offer NORA-Funded Consumer Rebates


By Rhonda Gerson

Several state and regional associations have launched NORA-funded consumer rebates using a new rebate management program that streamlines the tasks related to tracking, reviewing and submitting rebates for funding. The National Oilheat Research Alliance rebate program aims to increase consumer efficiency and safety, while keeping more customers utilizing Oilheat and Bioheat® fuel.

The Upgrade and Save Energy Efficiency and Safety Upgrade Rebate System is an integrated, web-based platform that enables online dealer registration, pre-approval and final submission of rebates by the dealers, association review, and submission to NORA. PriMedia, Inc. developed the program.

“For dealers, it’s a key arrow to keep customers they might have lost,” said NORA President John Huber about the new rebates. “Helping people improve the efficiency of their system either by upgrading their boiler or furnace, or even adding a thermostat, is a key goal of NORA’s, so having a way to have that goal met is exciting.”

In addition to processing the rebate, the Upgrade and Save platform will track before-and-after efficiencies for each rebate, enabling the association and individual dealers to quantify the energy savings they have provided. In addition, this efficiency information will be provided to NORA to be included in industry-wide calculations and reports to Congress.

Upgrade and Save programs have been launched by the Oil Heat Comfort Corp. on Long Island (OHCC), the New York Oil Heating Association (NYOHA) and the Hudson Valley Oil and Energy Council (HVOEC), with programs under development for the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA) and the Upper New York Energy Association (UNYEA). Other state and regional associations are reviewing the program. As a NORA-funded project, consumer rebates are available to all dealers within an association’s coverage area, regardless of affiliation.

With the Upgrade and Save platform, each association has control over the incentives offered. The current programs offer rebates on boiler and furnace replacements, storage tanks, and/or burner controls, but rebates may also be extended to water heaters, smart thermostats and other energy-efficienct equipment. Associations also determine maximum rebates for each dealer and property. These terms, as well as overall availability of funds, are checked instantaneously during the pre-approval process.

“This is, without a doubt, the absolute best thing that we have done in my now 34 years here at OHCC. We just received the first checks from NORA for the first two months of the program, and we’ll be sending out more than 100 checks in the next week totaling about $28,000,” raved OHCC CEO Kevin Rooney. “PriMedia made the process so simple, so easy to understand, access and process, through the microsite. It’s an absolute no brainer for companies and the folks applying for the rebates. It’s just great stuff.”

NYOHA allocated approximately $200,000 for rebates, and processed 40 to 50 in the first month, according to President Rocco Lacertosa. “We put it out to the board, and came up with a consensus of how much to offer, and for which products,” he explained. “The goals are to get customers who might have thought about another fuel to upgrade their equipment and stay with Oilheat, and to give dealers additional installation revenue and tie their customers to them a little bit tighter.”

He continued, “PriMedia came out with a very good way for us to manage the rebates at the association level, and for the dealers to be able to go to a website and see how much they have available, and when they complete the installation to upload all the forms to get the rebates.”

The HVOEC program, which had just launched at press time, offers $500 for boilers and furnaces and $250 for storage tanks.

Other associations offer rebate programs without the Upgrade and Save platform, but they must handle the management, tracking, review and submission of rebates manually, requiring a greater investment of time and resources by association staff. With PriMedia’s Upgrade and Save Rebate Manager, Rooney says, “I get my monthly report sent electronically; I process it and send it to NORA. It’s simplicity plus!”

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