Energy Star brings good news for Florida. If you’re from Florida and you own Energy Star-rated air conditioners, air source heat pumps, and geothermal heat pumps, then you’ve got a reason to be happy on Monday, the 30th of August 2010. Energy Star will be offering about $15 million in energy rebates for the above-mentioned units, with each rebate costing $1,500.
If you buy units starting Monday, August 30 until December 31, 2010 you qualify for the rebates unless the money has not run out before then. However, purchases made before Monday do not count at all. But good news though is the state’s expectation that the money will last for a while.
Undoubtedly, new central air conditioners can be very expensive. As part of the state’s program, duct testing is required to ensure that no more than 15% of the cool air is leaking. It would be best that buyers do hire someone to conduct the duct testing and hopefully repairs can be made in order to qualify for the said rebates.
Brenda Buchan, chief analyst in the governor’s energy office, said “Air conditioning systems are not like kitchen appliances where someone will replace them when they feel like it. A homeowner will wait until their system dies before they replace it because those systems are so expensive.” She also adds, “Because we are requiring the homeowner have their ducts tested to qualify, there will be some customers who do not want to be bothered.”
To ensure that duct testing is properly conducted, it must be done by a Florida Class 1 rater, Florida licensed mechanical contractor or recognized test and balance agent. Based on the state’s estimates, about 12% won’t qualify for the said rebates because their duct systems can’t be accessed for repairs. Sufficient for nearly 10,000 rebates, these allocated funds are generated from the federal stimulus law passed in early 2009 that were given to states. According to Buchan, the state is utilizing $63,000 of the allocated funds in order to run the program.
To qualify, units should meet the requirements set forth for a federal tax credit. These requirements are created to promote energy efficient purchases. The tax credit can cost up to $1,500 which is 30% of the price of the new unit together with the installation charges.
But there’s an exception though. Single-room or window units do not qualify for rebates. Units like these have already been included in state appliance rebate program earlier this year.
All Air of South Dade, Inc Operations Manager Robert Dibenedetto is highly appreciative of the new program. “It will definitely be a little help,” he said. “Anything that reduces cost to the customer is a good thing.”
Moreover, he says duct testing can cost around $350 but it’s very useful. It lets you determine leaks. When your air conditioners are leaking, it therefore means, you’re air-conditioning areas that do need air conditioning at all. He also said that all manufacturers offer qualifying units that should be rated at least 16 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) or 13 EER (energy efficiency rating) for split system air conditioners.
To request for rebates, you should include an application form which you can avail by Monday, August 30th at www.rebates.com/floridahvac. Other requirements that have to be accomplished are: copy of the receipt of the new unit with its make and model clearly specified, a copy of the permit issued by a municipality for replacement of the system, a copy of the first page of the ACCA Manual J program and a copy of the Air Distribution Test System Report that shows a leakage score of 0.10 Qn. out or less. This rebates program is exclusive for Florida residents.
They will be issued as American Express Prepaid Cards which do not expire or have monthly fees and can be exchanged for checks or an electronic deposit as well. Plus, they may be merged with manufacturer rebates, electric company rebates and the federal tax credit – that requires the installation of new cooling systems at primary residences.
So, why is the state of Florida offering a rebate on an air conditioning system and even requires a duct to qualify? From rebates.com, here are the reasons why:
a. According to Progress Energy of Florida, heating and cooling represents 42 percent of the energy used in the average home in Florida. Thus, improving a home’s HVAC system presents the greatest opportunity for energy savings.
b. Florida Power & Light estimated that two-thirds of all Florida homes have leaking ducts that go undetected and these leaks are one of the biggest sources of wasted energy in a home.
c. Researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center found that sealing ductwork in existing homes cut cooling bills by about a third.
d. The University of Florida’s IFAS Extension Service determined that among typical homes in Florida, duct systems lose 25 to 40 percent of heating or cooling energy. Further, leaky ducts make your HVAC system work much harder. Home heating and cooling ducts leaking just 20 percent of the conditioned air passing through them causes the HVAC to work 50 percent harder.
The Florida ENERGY STAR® Residential HVAC Rebate program aims to provide a financial incentive to homeowners to upgrade their system to an energy efficient unit and to have their home ducting system checked and corrected concurrent with replacing their HVAC system.