Home Star Tax Rebates for HVAC – Air Conditioners, Furnaces and Ducts
The US government has taken great strides in lighting a fire under the struggling construction sector which was hit hard during the economic slow down. On the heels of the wildly successful “Cash For Clunkers” automobile incentive, rebates have paired up the desire to promote green builds with the need to inject some life into the industry and have resulted in the Home Star energy retrofit Act of 2010.
Affectionately dubbed “Cash for Caulkers”, the hope is that it will kick start new builds while cutting carbon emissions and creating much needed jobs. 6 billion dollars has been made available for energy efficient retrofits which is expected to save US citizens over 9 billion dollars over the next decade. Programs in 2009 that promoted efficiency with tax credit incentives have been vastly expanded much to the delight of homeowners through out the country.
The rebate programs and eligibility can seem confusing at best so two types of packages have been put together for homeowners to ensure that you get the best rebate possible. Rebates are still available on an individual basis however the ability to combine them has the potential to save you even more money while making a positive impact on the environment in the long term.
Silver Star Program
Homeowners receive a $1000.00 rebate for each approved retrofit. The maximum amount allowed is $3000.00 or 50% of the total cost, whichever is less. Should the homeowner spend $6000.00 the rebate would be $3000.00 however if you were to spend $9000.00 the rebate would still be $3000.00 as it is the lesser of the $3000.00 cap or 50%. With the Silver Star program there is no specific requirement for emissions reduction. Rebates are based solely on approved retrofits.
Gold Star Program
To be eligible homeowners must reduce total home energy consumption by 20% for which a $3000.00 rebate will be granted. Homeowners will also receive an additional $1000.00 for each 5% reduction over and above the required 20% up to a maximum of $8000.00 or 50% of total cost, whichever is the lesser amount. Rebates can be granted for all approved retrofits including heating system replacement, air source air conditioner or heat pump installation, interior and exterior sealant and duct system repair or replacement. Additionally, rebates can be granted for any other energy saving measure put into play including high efficiency appliances, reflective roofing, external window attachments, insulated siding, automatic water temperature controllers or home energy management systems.
The home star program also allows for those homeowners that have the skills to complete the required renovations without the extra expense of a professional installation. Though limited to attic installation, crawl space insulation and air sealing retrofits, homeowners receive rebates for products purchased up to $250.00
Heating, in most of the country, by far eats up the largest portion of energy bills, up to 50% in cooler parts of the country. While in warmer southern climates air conditioning is a much more significant cost. Rebates focus greatly on retrofits geared towards HVAC equipment that helps lessen our national energy consumption and therefore lowering our individual energy costs significantly. Some of the HVAC related repairs or retrofits that can make the most impact both environmentally and financially are listed below;
Air Conditioner Upgrade
Possible rebate $1500.00
People living in cities like Houston or Miami, among others, know how vital air conditioning is. Home cooling isn’t a luxury in southern states, it’s a necessity, and given how heavily people rely on their air cooling system, an inefficient one can be ridiculously costly. Having a professional HVAC contractor switch out your clunker for an environmentally friendly and energy efficient one that is approved and installed according to ANSI/ACCA standard 5 QI-2007 can be one of the best investments you make for your home. Besides the obvious comfort benefits, an extra $1500.00 in your pocket isn’t too shabby.
Heating System Replacement
Possible rebate up to $1000.00
Most homes are still running older heating systems that are both costly and extremely inefficient. Between the rebates and the monthly savings on your heating bill the initial cost to replace an older system will be recouped very quickly. Rebate amount varies dependent on the retrofit you have decided on. For example, changing to a natural gas or propane furnace = $750.00 rebate while switching out to a natural gas or propane boiler brings in $1000.00 in government rebates. Replacing your old system with a wood or pellet boiler or furnace will net you anywhere from $500.00 to $1000.00 depending out the system’s output.
Repairing or Replacing Duct Work
Possible rebate $1000.00
Independent sources place air loss due to leaky ducts at anywhere from 20%-40% which can greatly impact your heating and cooling costs. Sealing or replacing ducts can be done as a DYI project though most entrust this work to a professional HVAC contractor due to their ability to seal inaccessible leaks, detect leaks that may not be visible, and of course, the ability to guarantee all work under warranty.
For duct work to be eligible under the Home Star program a minimum of 50% of the distribution system must be repaired or replaced to the standard set by the Secretary of Energy.
Claiming and receiving your rebates does require some work, and thought it isn’t quite as easy as walking into a government office and saying “Here’s my receipt, can I have a cheque?”, it’s worth the effort. You should consult your tax professional on the specifics. For more information on rebates, how to claim them, grant options and alternate financing options and government incentive programs visit the US Department Of Energy website found here.
For additional related information;
US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce – Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010
White House Fact Sheet – Homestar Energy Efficiency Program
Home Star 101 – Center for American Progress