You may have heard that the tax credits available for installing new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment have expired, and are no longer available. Though there are some tax credits that expired at the end of 2011, the biggest tax credits — those for systems that use renewable energy — are still in effect through 2016. And that means you can still get impressive tax savings by installing a geothermal system this year.
With or without tax credits, geothermal systems offer many benefits. They are the most energy-efficient HVAC system available, saving you money on your utility bills and reducing your carbon footprint. They provide air conditioning and heating in one unit, and can be set up to provide hot water, as well, which means you can kiss your hot-water heater and its energy waste goodbye. They also are quiet, and last longer than most HVAC equipment.
The one knock against geothermal systems is that they cost more to install. You have to weigh the long-term savings against the initial expense. But that is where the tax credits come in handy. Instead of a set dollar amount, the geothermal tax credits are based on a percentage of the total cost, with no limit to the amount you can claim. When you have a geothermal system installed, 30 percent of your cost — including both the equipment price and installation expenses — is returned to you on your federal income tax bill. That can be a significant savings, and it makes the economics of geothermal heating and cooling that much more attractive: the system will pay for itself though energy savings in 30 percent less time.
To be eligible for the federal tax credit, the geothermal installation must meet certain requirements. For a closed-loop system, it must have an EER (energy efficiency ratio) of at least 14.1, and a COP (coefficient of performance) of at least 3.3. A system’s EER measures the amount of fuel that it consumes versus the amount of cooling energy that it provides. A system’s COP measures its heating efficiency, and the higher the number, the better.
Additionally, keep in mind that open-loop systems have slightly higher efficiency requirements. Of course, those requirements also help you save money by lowering your electricity bills.
If you have any questions, contact the Northwest Arkansas geothermal experts at Paschal Heat, Air, Geothermal & Generators. We’ll help design the ideal geothermal system for your home, and ensure that you qualify for the full tax credit.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about geothermal systems and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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