Chicagoans get new furnace rebates

By Marjorie Isaacson

Free money! The Chicagoland Natural Gas Savings Program is offering rebates on energy efficiency.

The program is designed to help you purchase the most energy-efficient new furnaces, boilers, clothes washers, water heaters, and insulation. The maximum rebate amounts are: $750 for insulation, $600 for boilers, $450 for furnaces, $400 for water heaters and $100 for clothes washers.

Here's how it works. You may be considering purchasing a new furnace. That's a good idea, since if your current furnace is more than 10-15 years old, it's using more gas than it needs to, and with natural gas prices where they are, you're really wasting money. When you start looking at new furnaces, you'll find that they operate at different efficiencies. It's common for people to install furnaces that are only 80% efficient, even though furnaces that are 90-95% efficient are also on available.

A new furnace is a relatively expensive investment, and high-efficiency furnaces are an additional couple of hundred dollars more expensive. But not purchasing the higher-efficiency model is a penny-wise, pound-foolish decision. You'll quickly earn back the extra cost with lower fuel bills, and continue to save every month thereafter. But now, this grant can be used to pay for the difference in cost between the lower and higher efficiency models.

Of course, this money isn't really free. If you look on your Peoples Energy bill, you'll see a line item called the Enhanced Efficiency Program. Because funds are limited, only a small percentage of customers will be able to take advantage of the rebates. Why shouldn't you be one of them? The result will be lower costs for you, and the energy efficiency improvements will have environmental benefits that everyone can enjoy.

To see a full list of eligible models and insulation and learn how to apply, link to Chicagoland Natural Gas Savings Program or call 866-964-7345. Applications must be made no later than 60 days after the purchase or by May 31, 2009, whichever comes first.

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