CenterPoint Energy Incentives and Rebates in Texas

2021 CenterPoint Energy Rebate Programs

CenterPoint Energy has 2.5 million customers in the Greater Houston metropolitan area, making it the second largest utility in Texas (after Oncor). CenterPoint manages several energy efficiency programs, which have achieved 215 million kWh in annual electricity savings, and 152,000 metric tons of avoided carbon emissions.

The benefits achieved are equivalent to the annual electricity usage of 25,000 homes, or removing 32,000 cars from circulation.  As of 2021, CenterPoint has 15 energy incentive programs that can be divided into three main categories:

Incentive Programs for Builders and Developers

  • High Efficiency Homes Program
  • Multi-Family Direct Install Program
  • Multi-Family High Efficiency New Construction Program
  • Multi-Family Water and Space Heating Program

Incentive Programs for Commercial and Small Industrial Facilities

  • Commercial High-Efficiency Foodservice (CHEF) Program
  • Commercial & Industrial Standard Offer
  • Commercial Load Management
  • Commercial Coolsaver Program
  • Data Center Energy Efficiency Program (DCEEP)
  • Healthcare Energy Efficiency Program (HEEP)
  • Retro-Commissioning
  • SCORE/CitySmart

Incentive Programs for Equipment Distributors & Contractors

  • Mid-Stream Market Transformation Program
  • Residential Standard Offer Program
  • Hard-to-Reach Standard Offer Program

CenterPoint Incentive Programs for Builders and Developers

1) High Efficiency Homes

This program offers rebates for homebuilders and HERS raters who achieve energy savings of at least 10% or 750 kWh with respect to a baseline home, demonstrated with approved energy modeling software. Alternatively, a home can use prescriptive design features to earn the incentive. The following table summarizes the four tiers and the three compliance paths in the High Efficiency Homes program:

Energy Efficiency Tier Incentive Amount ($) Path #1

(kWh Savings)

Path #2

(% kWh Savings)

Path #3

(Prescriptive)

Base Efficiency $100 750 kWh 10% Not Available
Tier 1 $250 1,750 kWh 15% R38 Attic

R13-R15 Walls

16 SEER AC

Tier 2 $500 2,500 kWh 20% R38 Attic

≥R15 Walls

>SEER 16 AC

High Efficiency $750 3,000 kWh 25% Not Available

*NOTE: To qualify as Tier 2 or High Efficiency based on kWh savings or % savings, the home must also include one of the prescriptive Tier 2 measures.

When a home meets the requirements of two or three compliance paths, the incentive is calculated for the highest tier reached. For example, if a home saves 900 kWh (Tier 1) and this represents 15% of consumption (Tier 2), the incentive amount is $250 (Tier 2). In addition to offering rebates, the program supports developers with floor plan reviews, sales and operations training, and marketing materials.

2) Multi-Family High Efficiency New Construction Program

This program was created to promote the construction of low-rise multifamily projects with the ENERGY STAR certification. This is achieved by providing incentives and support for developers and HERS raters. The program targets developers and builders who meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • Working with qualified raters during the design and construction stages.
  • Achieving performance above code in their construction projects.
  • Obtaining a building certification above code, from a recognized program.

As of 2021, the programs recognized by CenterPoint include: LEED, ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, ENERGY STAR Multifamily High Rise (New Construction), Enterprise Green Communities, National Green Building Standard, Passive Building Certification, and the Living Building Challenge Certification.

The following table summarizes the incentive rates available under this program, according to the guidebook provided by CenterPoint:

Energy Efficiency Measures Incentive Rate
Base Performance Incentive, for savings up to 10% with respect to the baseline $0.02 per kWh, up to $40 per unit
Bonus Performance Incentive, for savings exceeding 10% with respect to the baseline $0.04 per kWh, up to $80 per unit
SEER 15 Central AC or Heat Pump $75/unit
SEER 16+ Central AC or Heat Pump $125/unit
Independent Mechanical Ventilation Fans $50/unit
ENERGY STAR Refrigerator $40/unit
ENERGY STAR Dishwasher $10/unit
ENERGY STAR Clothes Washer $30/unit
100% High Efficacy Lighting $15/unit
Above Code Windows $30/unit
R-19 / R13+5 ci Exterior Wall Insulation $35/unit
R-49 Attic Insulation (Alternative: R-25 ci entirely above roof deck for 4+ stories) $20/unit
Duct Leakage Testing (4+ stories only) $25/unit
Air Leakage Testing (4+ stories only) $25/unit
Bonus for Certification Above Code $5/unit
Incentive for the services of a Rater or other Qualified Professional $20/unit (paid directly to the Rater or Qualified Professional)

*NOTE: The performance and prescriptive incentives can be added, and at least two prescriptive measures must be implemented to be eligible.

3) Multifamily Water and Space Heating Program

This program provides energy efficiency incentives for non-electric water heaters in multifamily constructions. The equipment must exceed federal standards and local building codes to qualify. In the case of storage tank water heaters, the minimum efficiency factor (EF) is 0.62 for a 40-gallon system, and 0.60 for a 50-gallon system. 

The following table summarizes the incentive rates under this program, which vary depending on the market segment of the multifamily building – market rate or hard-to-reach (HTR):

Energy Efficiency Measures Incentive Rate
Shared Tankless Gas Array $250/unit (market rate)

$450/unit (HTR)

Shared Central Gas Boiler, Water Heating Only $150/unit (market rate)

$250/unit (HTR)

Individual Gas Water Heaters, Tank or Tankless $200/unit (market rate)

$300/unit (HTR)

Combo Gas Water Heating and Space Heating System, In-Unit (incentive based on energy analysis) $350-$500/unit (market rate)

$550-$700/unit (HTR)

If a multifamily project qualifies for both the High Efficiency New Construction program and the Water and Space Heating program, it gets an additional rebate of $25-$75 per unit.

4) Multifamily Direct Install Program

Unlike the HENC and WSH programs, which provide incentives for new multifamily buildings, the direct install program is for existing affordable housing. The building is first inspected  to determine eligibility, and qualifying properties get free upgrades, which include:

  • ENERGY STAR rated LED bulbs, up to 20 per dwelling unit
  • Kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators (<1.5 GPM)
  • Low flow showerheads (<2.0 GPM)
  • Hot water piping insulation (R3 or better)

The program also provides educational materials for residents, which include energy saving tips.

CenterPoint Incentive Programs for Commercial and Small Industrial Buildings

1) Commercial High-Efficiency Foodservice (CHEF) Program

The CHEF program from CenterPoint offers incentives for ENERGY STAR commercial kitchen equipment at the point of sale. The incentive is available from wholesalers, manufacturers, sales representatives, brand dealers, design consultants, industry buying groups, franchise groups and service/maintenance providers.

The following table summarizes the incentives available for all the ENERGY STAR product categories covered in the program:

Kitchen Equipment Typical Savings (kWh) Lifetime Savings ($) Incentive ($)
Dishwashers 8,500 kWh/year $18,000 $150-$1,400
Ice Makers 1,800 kWh/year $1,345 $150-$350
Combination Oven 7,000 kWh/year $7,450 $750-$1,500
Convection Oven 650 kWh/year $680 $300
Fryers 2,390 kWh/year $2,500 $500
Steam Cookers 1,500 kWh/year $12,000 $1,400-$2,000
Hot Food Cabinets 3,000 kWh/year $3,100 $150-$900
Solid or Glass Door Reach-in Freezers 900 kWh/year $945 $150-$450
Solid or Glass Door Reach-in Refrigerators 400 kWh/year $420 $150-$250

*NOTE: The incentive amount depends on the product model and manufacturer.

These rebates can only be claimed for new equipment with the ENERGY STAR rating, and they must be used in a facility with a non-residential power meter (in the CenterPoint service area).

2) Commercial & Industrial Standard Offer

This program offers incentives for a wide range of energy efficiency measures, in new construction and existing buildings. However, new constructions must exceed the minimum requirements of energy efficiency standards to be eligible. The program classifies facilities into large or small, based on their current consumption and the targeted savings:

  • Large facilities are those that currently have a peak demand of at least 100 kW in a single site, or 250 kW in multiple sites. These must achieve a demand reduction of at least 15 kW during summer, or energy savings of 100,000 kWh.
  • Small commercial facilities are those with a peak demand below 100 kW. They must save at least 1 kW in demand, or 100 kWh in energy consumption.

The 2021 program budget is $6 million, and the demand reduction goal is 11.7 MW. The program opened on January 11, applications will be received until October 22, and the deadline is December 1.

The 2020 incentive program had an original budget of $5 million, and the savings goal was also 11.7 MW. Total incentives of $6 million were awarded, saving 11.5 MW. 402 projects were submitted, and 276 were completed by the end of the year. The energy efficiency measures installed can be broken down as follows:

  • 59% lighting
  • 25% direct-expansion cooling systems
  • 8% refrigeration
  • 4% other cooling systems
  • 1% motor upgrades
  • 1% VFDs
  • 2% all other measures

In the 2020 program, 96% of energy efficiency projects were retrofits in existing buildings, and only 4% were new constructions.

The following table summarizes the incentive rates available in 2021:

Energy Efficiency Measure Incentive per kW Incentive per kWh
Lighting: Fluorescent, HID, CFL, Halogen $110/kW $0.03/kWh
Lighting: LED $180/kW $0.05/kWh
Direct Expansion Cooling Systems $275/kW $0.09/kWh
Chiller-Based Cooling Systems $325/kW $0.09/kWh
Other Cooling Systems $240/kW $0.09/kWh
Motor Upgrades $180/kW $0.07/kWh
Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) $200/kW $0.06/kWh
Energy Efficient Window Film $180/kW $0.06/kWh
Refrigeration $220/kW $0.06/kWh
Food Service $220/kW $0.06/kWh
Roofing $240/kW $0.09/kWh
Renewable Energy (Solar, Wind, etc.) $200/kW $0.02/kWh
Other Measures $200/kW $0.07/kWh

*NOTE: The incentive cap is 50% of installed costs.

3) Commercial Load Management

The Texas electricity grid must deal with demand peaks during summer, and this is caused in great part by air conditioning systems in homes and businesses. The commercial load management program rewards non-residential consumers who can quickly decrease their demand when requested, which eases the transmission and distribution burden on the grid.

  • To be eligible, participants must be capable of shedding at least 100 kW, and CenterPoint will notify them 30 minutes in advance when the load reduction is required.
  • There will be two tests in a given year, and four unscheduled events depending on how demand peaks behave.
  • The availability period for curtailments is from June 1 to September 30, between 1 and 7 PM, on weekdays that are not federal holidays.

Participants must have a Smart Meter or Interval Data Recorder, and the program requires a one-year commitment. They can opt out early without facing penalties, but they will also miss the rewards, which are awarded until the end of the program year.

  • As of 2021, the program awards up to $30 per kilowatt of verified curtailed load. There is a total savings goal of 110 MW, with a program budget of $3.3 million.
  • The 2020 program budget was also $3.3 million, but the incentive rate was $31.50/kW and the savings target was 104.76 MW.

4) Commercial CoolSaver Program

This program offers free AC tune-ups for commercial customers, which would normally have a typical cost of $140 each. The service is offered by approved contractors, and consumers must meet the following conditions to be eligible:

  • Having a central air conditioner or heat pump with at least 25 tons of capacity, which is at least one year old.
  • Not having received a tune-up from the CoolSaver program in the previous 5 years.
  • Outdoor temperature above 70°F.

An AC tune-up can reduce your electricity bills during summer, without having to invest in a new unit. The measure also contributes to indoor air quality and comfort, since the AC system will work optimally during the summer.

5) Data Center Energy Efficiency Program (DCEEP)

Data centers have a very important role in the modern business world, since they host e-commerce platforms and critical applications. The DCEEP from CenterPoint was created for the data center industry, helping operators improve their reliability and uptime.

  • This program offers cash incentives for energy efficiency measures in data centers.
  • There is also free technical assistance such as energy assessments, savings calculations, and benchmarking.
  • The program is available for non-residential sites with a service voltage below 69 kV, and they cannot be government or non-profit buildings.

Data center projects must be subject to an inspection and approval before the application. Owners can reach out before the planning stage begins, so the CenterPoint program managers can recommend improvements that save energy.

6) Healthcare Energy Efficiency Program (HEEP)

The HEEP is another no-cost program from CenterPoint, which provides cash incentives and technical assistance for commercial healthcare facilities: hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, nursing care facilities, laboratories, medical offices, etc. The technical assistance available includes energy assessments, savings calculations, and benchmarking.

7) Retro-Commissioning

The retro-commissioning (RCx) program for CenterPoint focuses on finding low-cost or zero-cost measures to reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings. Eligible commercial buildings can receive a free analysis, which can be compared to an ASHRAE Level 2 Audit. The facility types covered by the program include manufacturing plants, hospitals, university campuses and retail spaces.

The free energy analysis comes with one important condition: Customers who get the benefit must implement the measures proposed, at their own expenses. 

  • To make sure that this happens, the program requires each participant to commit $5,000 upfront, to be used for measures with a bundled payback period of less than 1.5 years. 
  • Individual measures can have payback periods of up to 5 years, as long as the combined payback is less than 1.5 years.
  • The amount of $5,000 can be reduced if the total cost of the measures identified is smaller.

The program focuses on low-cost measures with quick payback periods. Some examples are HVAC temperature reset, outside  air reduction, HVAC start-up optimization, LED lighting schedule adjustments, and speed controls for electric motors. If a commercial customer decides not to install the energy efficiency measures, the recommissioning service must be paid, at a rate of $0.05 per kWh of identified savings.

The 2021 program has introduced an incentive for Monitoring Based Commissioning (MBCx), which consists of commissioning a building more frequently with the help of hardware and software. MBCx uses data analysis to identify new opportunities to save energy, and also to detect areas in which performance has dropped.

The program provides a cash incentive if the energy efficiency measures are implemented quickly, considering two factors:

  • Achieved percentage of the proposed savings.
  • Time in which the percentage was achieved.

The maximum incentive for fast implementation is $0.06/kWh, which is available for achieving at least 95% of the identified savings in less than a month. If the savings percentage achieved is lower, or the project takes longer, the incentive is gradually reduced. There is also an incentive of $0.03/kWh for implementing an MBCx system (Monitoring Based Commissioning).

8) SCORE/CitySmart

This is a more general program, which offers financial incentives and technical assistance for a wide range of commercial buildings. These include schools, universities, municipalities, religious organizations and non-profit organizations. The technical assistance offered includes services like energy benchmarking, energy master plan development, access to funding sources, and media communications support.

The SCORE Program offers incentives for specific energy efficiency measures, which are very similar to those offered in the Commercial and Industrial Standard Offer Program. These incentives can be claimed for new constructions, renovations, and maintenance projects.

Energy Efficiency Measure Incentive per kW Incentive per kWh
Lighting: Fluorescent, HID, CFL, Halogen, LED tubes and kits $110/kW $0.03/kWh
Lighting: LED Fixtures $180/kW $0.05/kWh
Direct Expansion Cooling Systems $275/kW $0.09/kWh
Chiller-Based Cooling Systems $325/kW $0.09/kWh
Other Cooling Systems $240/kW $0.09/kWh
Motor Upgrades $180/kW $0.07/kWh
Variable Frequency Drives (VFD), retrofit only $200/kW $0.06/kWh
Energy Efficient Window Film, retrofit only $180/kW $0.06/kWh
Refrigeration $220/kW $0.06/kWh
Food Service $220/kW $0.06/kWh
Roofing (retrofit only) $240/kW $0.09/kWh
Renewable Energy (Solar, Wind, etc.) $200/kW $0.02/kWh
Other Measures $200/kW $0.07/kWh

The 2021 SCORE/CitySmart program has a budget of $2,107,908, with a savings goal of 17,900,000 kWh and 4,600 kW.

The 2020 budget was originally $2,307,908, with a target of 19,205,000 kWh and 5,000 kW. However, the program achieved savings of 20,574,534 kWh and 5,277 kW, exceeding its target, at a cost of $2,328,977. The savings were equipment to the consumption of 1,679 homes, and the environmental benefit was equivalent to removing 3,143 cars from circulation.

CenterPoint Incentive Programs for Distributors & Contractors

These programs focus on high efficiency products and appliances, and they award incentives based on the verified savings (kW and kWh) after project completion.

1) Mid-Stream Market Transformation Program

This program provides incentives for air conditioning systems and pool pumps, working with contractors and dealers to install high-efficiency units.

The program covers AHRI-matched air conditioners and heat pumps, with capacities ranging from 1.5 to 5 tons. The minimum cooling efficiency to be eligible is SEER 16, and HSPF 8.6 in the case of heat pumps. The benefit only applies for unit replacements in existing properties, and new constructions are not eligible.

In the case of pool pumps, the program covers ENERGY STAR variable-speed units, which must be installed by licensed and insured contractors.

2) Residential Standard Offer Program

The Residential Standard Offer Program (RSOP) supports various energy efficiency measures in homes, where the incentive is determined by the specific type of measure. The following table summarizes the measures covered, and the applicable incentives in each case:

RSOP Energy Efficiency Measure Incentive per kW Incentive per kWh
Ceiling Insulation $375/kW $0.13/kWh
Heat Pump Replacement $325/kW $0.15/kWh
Central A/C Replacement $350/kW $0.15/kWh
Window A/C Replacement $175/kW $0.13/kWh
LED Lighting $200/kW $0.072/kWh
Solar PV Systems $200/kW $0.04/kWh
All other measures $225/kW $0.087/kWh

There are also two cases in which a fixed incentive is applied:

  • A/C Tune Up = $150 per tune-up
  • Refrigerator Recycling = $150 per refrigerator

The 2021 RSOP has a budget of $300,000. The program opened on January 2, it has an intermediate target of 50% completion by June 30, and it closes on November 12. The 2020 version provided $268,986 in total incentives, achieving savings of 2,039,581 kWh and 282 kW.

3) Hard-to-Reach Standard Offer Program

This program is similar to the RSOP, but it focuses on homes below 200% of the federal poverty guideline. The incentive rates offered are higher than those of the RSOP, and they are summarized in the following table:

HTR Energy Efficiency Measure Incentive per kW Incentive per kWh
Ceiling Insulation $450/kW $0.18/kWh
Heat Pump Replacement $425/kW $0.26/kWh
Central A/C Replacement $430/kW $0.26/kWh
Window A/C Replacement $200/kW $0.15/kWh
LED Lighting $215/kW $0.12/kWh
Solar PV Systems $225/kW $0.08/kWh
All other measures $275/kW $0.09/kWh

*There is also a fixed incentive of $125 per AC tune-up.

The 2021 HTR program has a budget of $500,000 and the same schedule as the RSOP – open since January 2 and closing on November 12. The 2020 HTR program provided $498,979 in total incentives, achieving savings of 1,038,164 kWh and 878 kW.

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