Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Tax Credits Make Geothermal Heat Pumps More Affordable

I recently took a trip from St. Louis to Greenville, Illinois to visit Enertech Manufacturing, LLC, a GeoComfort distributor.I had a meeting with owner Steve Smith to discuss our presentation at the upcoming Green Building Conference in Dallas. When I arrive, Steve showed me around his offices. We walked into the warehouse, where I saw hundreds of geothermal HVAC units still wrapped in cellophane and I thought - oh no, another casualty of the housing downturn.Not this time.The units had just arrived from Enertech’s manufacturing plant in Mitchell, South Dakota and most were waiting to be picked up for installation. There is a bright spot in the current housing market. And it’s called geothermal – using underground loop systems to take advantage of the earths near constant temperature to heat and cool the home.As a Certified Green Building Professional, I’ve often tried to convince my clients to consider geothermal. With costs twice as much as conventional HVAC systems, most clients weren’t interested.That is changing thanks to a 30% Federal tax credit.The new legislation covers installations from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2016. Homeowners who install geothermal systems may be able to claim up to 30% of the cost in tax credits.But, there’s more to it than just a tax credit. Geothermal is highly efficient and can save homeowners 40%-60% on utility bills. Mechanically, geothermal systems are relatively simple and require little maintenance. They are safe – no flame, no fuel, no odor. And because there are no fossil fuels, indoor air quality is cleaner.From the Dept. of Energy website: "Even though the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of an air-source system of the same heating and cooling capacity, the additional costs are returned to you in energy savings in 5–10 years. System life is estimated at 25 years for the inside components and 50+ years for the ground loop."A large tax credit and a good product - I have a feeling I’ll have more clients asking about geothermal. That means distributors like Steve Smith need to keep their warehouses full. After all, Steve says, "Business is up 60!"

Kim Hibbs-Hibbs Homes, LLC St. Louis, Missouri