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Trade Ally Newsletter - Q3 2023

Industry News

DOE announces natural gas most affordable energy source

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that natural gas is 3.3 times more affordable than electricity and significantly more affordable than several other residential energy sources for the same amount of energy delivered. The 2023 Representative Average Unit Costs of Five Residential Energy Sources says: 

(Costs in Dollars per Million British Thermal Units (Btu)) 
Source: U.S. Department of Energy 
Representative Average Unit Costs of Energy for Five Residential Energy Sources 

“America’s natural gas is critical to American and global energy security,” said American Gas Association (AGA) President and CEO Karen Harbert. “DOE’s analysis confirms the very clear and substantial cost-advantage of natural gas. Our nation’s domestic abundance of natural gas means American customers pay a fraction of what customers pay for other energy sources here at home and see significant savings compared to energy costs globally.  Our industry invests $91 million every day to ensure our vast modern delivery infrastructure provides the reliability Americans expect.” 

See full AGA press release here


Program Updates and Reminders

On-Bill Financing interest rate change Nov. 1

Our Energy Efficiency Loan offering, also known as On-Bill Financing, interest rate is going up!

Effective November 1, 2023, the interest rate for both the residential and small business/multi-family energy efficiency on-bill financing is increasing from 8.74% to 8.99%.

All other program terms remain the same. Any loans provided before the effect date will not change.

OBF is a benefit only for Contractor Circle members. Sign up to join Contractor Circle here!

If you are a CC member but aren’t an OBF-approved contractor and you want to participate, you can apply here.


Fall is the perfect time for steam trap and boiler tune-up projects

Fall is a great time to help your commercial and multi-family customers do:

  • Steam trap repair/replacements (survey required for process and dry cleaner traps) and
  • Boiler tune-up projects

Process boiler tune-ups are eligible for rebates every 2 years! Space heating boiler tune-ups are eligible every 3 years. Make sure to complete your boiler tune-up checklist!

Refer to the application to see eligibility requirements, supplemental documentation needed and invoice requirements. 

Offer more with a furnace and smart thermostat bundle!

Customers who install and apply for an energy efficient furnace and smart thermostat at the same time get a higher rebate! This puts more money back in your customer’s pocket and lowers the overall project cost. 

We have over 110 eligible smart thermostats, which you can find in our 2023 Q3 qualifying product list here (updated every quarter). If there’s a model that isn’t listed, but you think qualifies, please contact our team, and we will confirm eligibility and add to the list.


Man fixing furnace

Emerging Technology

What are the many benefits of Gas Heat Pumps?

Nicor Gas is always looking for ways to help our customers save energy and money. One way we do this is by evaluating and advancing new products through our Emerging Technology (ET) Program, which eventually can be added to our Energy Efficiency (EE) portfolio as a rebate or another offering.

Gas Heat Pumps (GHP’s), fuel by natural gas, are being evaluated through our ET program. This highly efficient technology can achieve 140% AFUE and can provide space heating, water heating or a "combi" option that combines both. And most commercial GHPs include cooling in addition to space and water heating! While commercial GHPs are already available for larger applications, several manufacturers are now coming out with smaller residential versions.

GHP benefits may include:

  • High fuel efficiency (up to140% AFUE) provides lower operating costs
  • Reduces Green House Gas (GHG) emissions due to increased efficiency and ultra-low NOx compliance
  • Natural refrigerant with zero global warming potential (GWP)
  • No combustion or refrigerant inside
  • Only water/food grade propylene glycol mix is used to transfer heat
  • Comfortable space heating even when outdoor temperatures are as low as -40o F/C with no backup required
  • Space heating with water heating combi option
  • No chimney, duct work, or electrical panel upgrades needed in most cases
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Training opportunities

Residential Gas Heat Pump Webinar - Sept. 28

Date: Thursday, Sept. 28
Time: 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Location: Virtual

Commercial gas heat pumps (GHPs), fueled by natural gas, are 140% efficient and are available from various manufactures, and now residential gas heat pumps are coming to market this fall!  Anesi is introducing their 80,000 BTH gas heat pump space and water heating combi, and Nicor Gas is hosting a webinar so they can provide an overview of their residential gas heat pump technology and installation considerations.

101 - Introduction to Anesi Gas Heat Pump (GHP) technology

8:30 to 9:30

  • How does GHP technology work?
  • Components that make up the system
  • GHP applications
  • Features of Anesi space/water heating combi

150– Anesi GHP Installation training for contractors (101 is a prerequisite)

9:30- 10:30

  • Site qualification
  • Installation highlights
    • Equipment placement
    • Component connections (hydronic, gas, electric)
    • Condensate management
  • Commercial water heating applications

Please register to learn more, and get your questions answered by the experts! If you cannot attend, we will email you a link to the recording.

Diverse Supplier 101 Webinar - Oct. 27

Date: Friday, Oct. 27
Time: 8:30 – 9:30 a.m., Q&A to follow
Location: Virtual

Is your company considered a “diverse supplier"? Do you know the benefits of getting your certification or do you need help getting it?

If so, please attend to learn from the experts at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) and Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council (CMSDC):

  • What is a diverse supplier organization (such as Minority, Women, Veteran and LGBTQ ownership)
  • Who is eligible to get certified
  • How to get certified
  • Benefits of certification
  • And more!

Register to attend below! If you cannot attend, we will email you a link to the recording.

Commercial Gas Heat Pump Webinar - Nov. 9

Date: Thursday, Nov. 9
Time: 8:30 - 10:00 a.m., including Q&A
Location: Virtual

Highly efficient Commercial Gas Heat pumps, powered by natural gas, are available from several manufacturers. Learn how Robur’s GHP (Thermally Driven Air Source Commercial Heat Pumps) are a smart strategy for energy savings and decarbonizing. This training will review commercial applications as well as success cases for GHP technology within these spaces.

Topics will include:

  • What is a Thermally Driven (gas-fired absorption) Air Source Heat Pump
  • How energy efficient it is over traditional technologies
  • Why is it a smart strategy for decarbonization
  • Why it is “a bridge” to a net-zero future
  • Why electrification is not the sole answer to decarbonization

Sign up to put a hold on your calendar! If you cannot attend, we will email you a link to the recording.



Nicor Gas Workforce Training and Employment graduates its first cohort!

The Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program celebrated the graduation of its first Workforce Training and Employment (WTE) skilled cohort! The skilled cohort was a diverse group of six individuals who currently work in the trades. The group completed three weeks of weatherization training to develop those skills and obtained recognized industry certifications including the Building Performance Institute- Building Science Principles (BSP) and the Building Analyst-Technician (BA-T) certifications.

This program is instrumental in fostering the growth of the energy efficiency workforce and empowering participants to elevate their careers skillsets. Nicor Gas will have more than 40 workers successfully complete this program by the end of 2025, and all will be from underrepresented communities across the territory. It is the first utility-led initiative of its kind in Northern Illinois, and we look forward to helping many more participants build opportunities in the field!


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