Access to finance is often cited as a barrier to adoption of high-efficiency technologies, especially by low-income consumers. Incentive programs lower financial hurdles in order to grow the market for very high-efficiency equipment or building efficiency measures and encourage economies of scale. For example, a consumer might receive a rebate after purchasing a high-efficiency refrigerator that has a higher upfront cost than less efficient appliances on the market. The key to scaling these programs is to develop schemes by which investments in the program are paid back by another benefit to government funds, or to society as a whole.
Multiple options exist to design an incentive program. Incentives can be paid directly to consumers or “upstream” at the point of production. They can be implemented through retailers or directly from manufacturers with cash rebates, payments through utility bills, tax incentives, or green mortgages.