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Con Edison's CDI Program Offers Big Savings For Small Businesses

A smart thermostat in a warehouse

In New York City, big dreams often start small. Over 90% of businesses in the New York Metropolitan Area have fewer than 20 employees.

From corner grocery stores and restaurants to yoga studios and coffee shops, small businesses form the backbone of the city’s economy. But rising rents and other expenses add to the pressure of keeping businesses afloat. 

To help customers save on their bills and to maintain the resiliency of the grid, Con Edison pays out incentives to small-business owners who upgrade their lighting, refrigeration, gas equipment or HVAC systems. Any business with an average peak demand under 300 kilowatts is eligible.

Con Edison and its 350,000 eligible customers in the metropolitan area can achieve greater energy savings through the incentives program.

“Energy usage in a store, restaurant, office or any other small business can be quite intensive,” Con Edison Commercial Direct Install program manager Shaun Hoyte said. “Our incentives can shave a lot of money off the upfront costs of an energy-efficiency upgrade. This allows owners to get a quicker return on their investments. Then, from that point on, all the money the owner saves on energy can go back into the business or be taken as profit.”

Con Edison’s Commercial Direct Install Program provides incentives that cover up to  50%, on average, of costs for a small-business owner who makes lighting, refrigeration or gas upgrades. The process starts with a free assessment of the customer’s property and energy usage performed by a participating contractor of the program. After the assessment is reviewed, recommendations are made on how the customer can save energy and money. The customer may then choose from a list of participating contractors to install the upgrades on their property. 

Con Edison pays the incentive money directly to the contractor so that the customer doesn’t have to wait for a rebate. 

HVAC measures were also recently added to the program. These incentives cover upgrades including heating and cooling system retrofits, energy controls and operation and maintenance, replacing existing equipment due to performance or end of life to installing new technology like programmable thermostats. 

WiFi-programmable thermostats controllable through a smartphone, for example, ensure that heating and cooling units turn on and off on a pre-set schedule, helping to reduce energy use. The building can begin to cool down or warm up before people arrive, and the thermostat will shut off when it is no longer needed. This helps operate the building more comfortably, efficiently and cost-effectively.

Beyond cost savings, efficient energy use adds to the quality of life for employees, patrons and visitors to small businesses.  

“Employees working in harsh conditions tend to lose focus,” Hoyte said. “Business owners can use these advancements to fine-tune multiple temperature zones to optimize comfort levels. The result is an uptick in employee and workplace productivity."

For Hoyte, one challenge has been educating small-business owners about the available incentives and how much money they could save from improved energy equipment. While energy upgrades require an initial investment, customers make up the cost over time with the energy they save. 

Through Con Edison’s incentives, upgrades have become more affordable. 

“We want to be more than just an energy provider,” Hoyte said. “We want to partner with our customers and align our offerings with their energy consumption patterns so that we can not only present them with valuable energy savings opportunities but also contribute to New York State’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ strategy.” 

Reforming the Energy Vision is the state’s program to change the way electricity is generated and used. It aims to create a clean energy future in which customers have easier access to energy efficiency, solar, storage and other products and services.

In the New York City business world, every penny saved counts. 

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