Households and businesses choose to be more efficient and “green” if extra effort and money leads to significant savings. The average professional may not be focused on reducing his or her carbon footprint but will be motivated by incentive.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) addresses this issue by allowing residents and businesses to access financial energy incentives in order to save money and make government energy initiatives more effective, efficient and economically impactful.
Here’s an example of how DSIRE works best. An individual notices a rebate for LED lightbulbs and learns of the savings that will follow. This person will buy the more efficient light bulb because doing so is easy and cost-effective. Site users see firsthand how state and federal government can improve one’s life.
DSIRE enables users to search for renewable and efficiency incentives by state, sector, technology, implementing sector, and incentive or policy type. This function is a painless, productive and efficient way for businesses and homeowners to be matched with energy incentives. This solution helps users identify programs but does not offer much support to execute these initiatives.
Currently there is no alternative for individuals and businesses looking for support to utilize energy incentives. Town halls, legislative office hours and letters or emails, are arenas to discuss current, pending or future legislation, not financial incentives. There are forums to solve technical problems, such as how to install a photovoltaic panel or how to properly insulate a house. These forums do not offer support on how to receive grant funding, rebates or tax exemptions. State and federal energy departments also offer contact information, but their advice may not be not as expeditious or helpful as community driven input.
My proposed solution is a DSIRE forum for users to ask questions about specific incentives, share ideas, experiences and insights on energy and offer support to utilize incentives. This forum will be divided by state and federal incentives and also by residential and commercial application. Businesses may not be apt to share energy saving techniques with other companies, but I predict that nonprofits, construction companies, energy consultants and other energy professionals will offer paid or unpaid assistance through the forum.
Additionally, DSIRE should support Green Button data. A mechanism should identify programs personalized to the user’s energy footprint.
In summary, a DSIRE forum will improve this database by creating a central location for individuals and businesses interested in renewables and energy efficiency to collaborate, gain the tools needed to achieve energy goals, and optimize state and federal initiatives.