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New U.S. Tax Bill Offers HVAC Incentives for Homeowners, Builders, OEMs
Dec 17, 2010
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It got ugly in the U.S. Congress yesterday evening, but a tax bill was passed, complete with new tax benefits for consumers who upgrade certain HVAC components in their homes. The bill is expected to be signed into law today by President Obama. The bill extends Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels and renews unemployment benefits.

The bill includes new energy efficiency incentives that take effect in 2011 and provide a federal income tax credit, up to $500, for specific energy efficiency home improvements.

The Alliance to Save Energy describes the incentives as a return to the “pre-stimulus” incentive structure, in effect in 2006 and 2007, that limits the tax credit for “building envelope” materials (such as insulation, sealing products, certain types of roofs and energy-efficient windows) to 10% of their cost. Windows have a flat $200 limit.

The bill incorporates dollar limits for energy efficiency upgrades not subject to the 10% criterion:
• $50 for an advanced main air circulating fan (for an HVAC system)
• $150 for certain natural gas, oil, and propane furnaces and hot water boilers
• $300 for “energy efficient building property,” a category that includes electric heat pumps; natural gas, propane, or oil water heaters; central air-conditioners; electric heat pump water heaters; and biomass stoves for heating or water heating

The bill also extends the new homes tax credit for homebuilders. Qualifying homes must use 50% less energy than a typical home for heating and cooling.

The bill also extends and modifies the tax credit for manufacturers of certain energy-efficient appliances.

Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan the incentives will engage consumers in the effort to curb global climate change while continuing to encouraging homebuilders and appliance manufacturers to focus on energy-efficiency. Still, Callahan expressed disappointment at the incentives' paucity. More generous tax credits "would have increased their use by consumers, to the benefit of our economy, energy security and environment," Callahan said.

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