Oncor Energy Incentive Programs for Texas Homeowners
Does your residence qualify?
Low-Income Weatherization Program
Deficient home insulation and air leaks increase the load on heating and cooling systems, since they must compensate for added heat gain during the summer and heat loss during the winter. This increases the energy consumption of HVAC installations, resulting in higher power bills.
The Low-Income Weatherization Program provides cash incentives for Texas homeowners below 200% of the federal poverty line, allowing them to improve their building envelope at low cost or even zero cost. The program also provides incentives to upgrade plumbing installations, home appliances and window air conditioners.
The three most common building envelope upgrades for residential properties are insulation, caulking and weatherstripping:
- Insulation increases the resistance to heat flow across a roof, wall or floor. Insulation is important for the entire building envelope, but priority should be given to the roof and basement – unwanted heat flow occurs mostly in these areas.
- Caulking improves airtightness for static building envelope elements such as lighting and plumbing fixtures, as well as door and window frames.
- Weatherstripping accomplishes the same function as caulking, but is used in moving building elements like door and windows.
Home upgrades carried out with the Low-Income Weatherization Program provide immediate energy savings with no need for mechanical equipment upgrades, and often at zero cost.
Home Energy Efficiency Program
This program provides incentives for the same insulation and airtightness measures described above. However, unlike the Low-Income Weatherization program, this one is available for all homeowners who are Oncor customers. If your property is rented you are also eligible, as long as you have permission from the owner.
Other than building envelope upgrades, the Home Energy Efficiency Program is also available for heating and cooling upgrades. HVAC equipment may leak around 20% of the air in circulation, and this represents an extra energy cost in your monthly bill. However, with Oncor you can incentives from $300 to $3,000 to improve home heating and cooling systems. Eligible types of equipment include central air conditioners, central heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps and water heaters. In the case of air conditioning upgrades, the incentive applies for equipment with a minimum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 16.
Differences Between the Low-Income Weatherization and Home Energy Efficiency Programs
The two program previously mentioned have some overlap in the types of home upgrades that are eligible for incentives. The following table summarizes the coverage of each program:
|Type of Home Upgrade||Low-Income Weatherization||Home Energy Efficiency|
|Central air conditioner||YES|
|Central heat pump||YES|
|ENERGY STAR clothes washer||YES||YES|
|ENERGY STAR dishwasher||YES|
|ENERGY STAR refrigerator||YES|
|ENERGY STAR window||YES||YES|
|Energy efficient shower heads||YES|
|Ground source heat pump||YES|
|Residential wall insulation||YES||YES|
|Residential water heater jacket||YES||YES|
|Water heater pipe insulation||YES||YES|
|Window air conditioner||YES|
Solar Photovoltaic Residential Program
Oncor homeowners planning to install a solar photovoltaic system can reduce their upfront costs with this incentive, increasing the return on investment. If the solar power system meets the requirements explained below, it is eligible for the incentive:
- New installation: The incentive is not retroactive for existing systems.
- Tilt angle range: The minimum is 0°, and the maximum is the latitude plus 15°.
- Azimuth range: 90° to 270°
Installed capacity range: 1 kW to 10 kW DC
Unlike the energy efficiency program, this one only applies for Oncor clients who own the home where they live, and new constructions are not eligible. Keep in mind that solar photovoltaic systems in Texas have a property tax exemption, which means you will not be taxed on any increase in home value after the installation.
Consider that solar power systems in the US are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit, but the benefit will be gradually phased out between 2020 and 2022. Depending on the year where the solar PV system is deployed, the federal incentive is reduced:
- 2019: 30% tax credit
- 2020: 26% tax credit
- 2021: 22% tax credit
- 2022 or later: 0% tax credit for homeowners, 10% tax credit for businesses
If you plan to equip your property with a solar power system, acting quickly pays off because a larger federal tax credit can be claimed.
Oncor Retail Products Program
The Retail Products Program focuses on LED lighting, through discounts at the point of sale for Oncor customers. The discounts are available from major retailers such as Costco, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart.
Just like the Home Energy Efficiency Program, the Retail Products Program is available for homeowners who have Oncor as their service provider, as well as renters who get authorization from their landlord.
While the program focuses on LED lighting, it is not exclusive for lighting products. Several ENERGY STAR home appliances also benefit from the Oncor Retail Products Program.
Take Advantage Now
Oncor’s incentive programs allow you to reduce your energy expenses with a two-fold approach: reducing the energy spent on heating and cooling, and using solar panels to generate your own energy once your consumption has been reduced.
Just keep in mind that the incentives are given to service providers, who then reflect them as a discount when they carry out home upgrades. Make sure you get many proposals before choosing a contractor, ensuring that you get the best deal available. Acting fast is also recommended, since these incentive programs are limited by a yearly budget.