Financing Options for Home HVAC Upgrades: Find Out About Federal Grants and Tax Credits

Learn about tax credits and federal grants for HVAC upgrades

Nothing is more critical to stabilizing the climate and comfort of your home than its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Imagine not having the heat working properly when you turn it on in the middle of January to keep your family warm, or flipping on your air conditioner once summer hits only to discover it is not cooling the house properly on those long, blistering days.

There’s no reason to suffer, especially when there are so many financing options available in the form of federal grants and tax credits to help you upgrade your existing HVAC system or to install a new system altogether.

Energy Star Tax Credit

This is arguably the most popular and famous of the energy tax credits available in today’s market, and the easiest one to obtain. What makes the Energy Star credit so popular is that the credits equate to reductions in your annual taxes. The Energy Star Tax Credit is available to anyone purchasing a new central air conditioner. This credit amount totals $300 but it is not good for all air conditioning units. Make sure to ask your HVAC installer to verify if your system is tax-credit eligible.

Federal Energy Tax Credits

Unfortunately, according to the Indoor Environment and Energy Efficiency Association, Congress failed to renew dozens of federal energy tax credit incentives at the end of 2013, which included the 25C Residential Energy Tax Credit for the purchase of highly efficient HVAC equipment by homeowners. Most federal tax credits for energy efficiency simply don’t exist anymore.

There are, however, a few government grant programs that remain operational for homeowners looking to upgrade or install an HVAC system. For instance, low-income homeowners who need to replace their HVAC systems qualify for the Weatherization Program HVAC tax credit through the U.S. Department of Energy, which covers 100 percent of the cost of a new HVAC system. Additionally, qualifying homeowners can receive grants for weatherization services, such as installing new windows or weather-stripping doors. The average weatherization grant amount is $6,500 and the DOE even provides homeowners weatherization services free-of-charge.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) replaces air conditioners under the Community Entitlement Grants program in cities and counties with more than 50,000 but less than 200,000 residents. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture sponsors the Housing Preservation Grant program, which provides financial assistance for homeowners repairing or renovating their homes in towns with less than 20,000 residents.

State-Level Programs

Each state has its own energy tax credit program, as do the utilities based in each state, many directly aimed at helping homeowners upgrade their HVAC systems or to install a new one, especially when converting to a renewable energy HVAC system. There is a website known as DSIRE that, according to its home page, provides a comprehensive listing of “incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States.”

Just remember that before you decide to upgrade or replace your home’s HVAC system, let the experts at Sears Home Services complete an energy audit of your home to get a solid grasp on where your home is leaking cool or hot air, or which rooms are not receiving enough ventilation. Also, if you choose to purchase a product not rated by Energy Star be sure to consult the Federal Energy Management Program at Energy.gov to see what rebates, if any, are available.

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