2021 Comed Rebates for Fast Food Restaurants

greenheck exhaust fans
Nov 23 2020

2021 will be an exciting year for the overall Comed Energy Efficiency Rebates and Incentives.  While 2020 was rough on the economy as a whole, the incentive program is tax funded through a line item on each utility bill – and money is budgeted and needs to be spent.  

Below is a highlight of the 2021 program, from the perspective of a fast food restaurant chain.  With over 8 years of experience of working with major fast food chain restaurants, Verde has a deep and focused emphasis on this type of building.  Our very first restaurant retrofit was Epic Burger in the South Loop – and I still remember the first months savings was more than if I kept my power off in my home for a year.  With a high energy density, these stores can see major P&L improvements with a sustained commitment to energy efficiency and taking advantage of available utility funding.

Cash Flow of Incentives

As a reminder on the process – all utility incentives are paid to Verde directly, so an owner/operator does not need to wait for the incentive check.  We also take on the risk of the incentive changing, with years of experience behind us.

We provide an estimated savings, return on investment (ROI), payback, as well as cost for improvements after incentives.  We have begun pushing an energy efficiency concept of net present value, to help capture long term savings in a capital improvement.  

Building Size Requirements

One big exciting change is that higher incentives are now available for all  restaurants, including those 100-200kW.  Typically, larger restaurants would need an exception to participate in the Small Business Offering, but the whole program will now serve 0-200kW and make life easier for owner/operators.  

Early Replacement of RTUs

trane high efficiencyOne of the highest energy users for a restaurants is the Roof Top Units, or RTUs.  Again in 2021, restaurants will be able to combine the advanced rooftop unit measure and the economizer DCV measure for a total incentive of $700 per ton.  For the average 10 ton RTU, this will lead to $7,000 of incentive off a replacement.  We work closely with national accounts for procurement to get the best of both worlds – national account pricing and local incentives. 

Kitchen Lights

We continue to install about 100 kitchen troffers LED conversions each and every work.  The incentives for T8 fluorescent light conversion to LED increased in 2021 slightly, providing further help to convert those lights to LED.  

One recent owner operator commented that that manager loves the new Philips Evokit because of how easy they are to clean compared to the old plastic cover troffers.  If you have worked with us, you know that our process is down for a crowded restaurant kitchen and we can complete a LED conversion in less than 2 hours from start to finish.  

LED Exterior Sign Conversions

Verde continues to find huge energy savings opportunities in exterior LED signs.  Often filled with high output T12s up to 8 feet in lengths, these signs are some of the largest energy consumers in our area.  LED not only make the sign brighter, but last longer and huge energy reduction.  

This incentive increased slightly in 2021, and we expect this conversion to be strong for clients in the restaurant business, especially as all businesses need clients to know if they are open and available for business.

EC Motors with Evaporative Fan Speed Controls

ec motor rebates

EV Motors and evaporative fan speed controls are not sexy – but they save a ton of energy.  When combined with the evaporative fan speed control, these variable speed motors can run at high speed only when the compressor is calling for cooling.  Many of our clients love  getting a new motor at a fraction of the cost, especially when combined with our best in class warranty.

The incentive for this is $260 per motor in 2021.  

RTU Tune Up for Restaurants

Comed offers a tune up, to help make sure the root top unit is working as designed for highest efficiency.  This tune-up has been very popular with our restaurant clients, especially when 3 or 4 are located on a single roof.  These tune-ups are paid at $30 per ton, and can be provided by Verde when requested.  We include a chemical cleaning of your coils, to provide higher functionality and less wear and tear on your system. 

kitchen high efficient equipment

Exhaust Fans

All restaurants are required by code to exhaust cooking smoke and chemicals.  While not covered significantly by incentive – exhaust fans can have $250 per HP.  Most exhaust fans are 3/4 or 1/2 HP – but this proactive replacement can save energy and avoid a big service call down the road.  Many clients combine this with the Roof Top replacement for the same upgrade project.

Kitchen Exhaust Fan with DCV

One of the rarely used but most powerful energy savings is the kitchen DCV.  In this savings measure, you combined the exhaust fan to run at the speed aligned with cooking.  By limiting the exhaust fan to the right CFM, you are avoiding wasting heated or cooled air.  In addition, this can create a more balanced and comfortable restaurant for staff and clients alike. No more drive through space heaters or winter coats!

This system typically saves about $2,000 in electricity and $2,000 in heating costs, for a combined $4,000 in annual savings.  This system rebate is $2,500 per exhaust fan, for a total of $7,500 for a restaurant with 3 fans.

Smart Thermostat

Smart Thermostat incentives increased to $250 when replacing a programmable thermostat in 2021.  While not always right for every owner, we install Ecobee, Pelican and Nest Smart Thermostats.  

best smart thermostat
Smart Thermostats give control to a restaurant owner for energy usage.


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