As I sit down to write my annual list of resolutions for contractors, I am amazed at how much things changed in 2020. Construction was going well and then, in March 2020, COVID-19 hit. At first, we thought it was going to be a disaster for the construction industry. States, cities and towns shut down projects and many applied for PPP loans. Then, something amazing happened. Construction was considered an essential service and everyone was back to work.  That said, the work world changed: companies were donating their PPE to frontline workers, COVID-19 protocols had to be followed and paperwork had to be filed. Everyone was scrambling to figure out how to comply and keep their businesses going. So, you may or may not ask, what was I, as a construction lawyer doing? I spent March and April thinking about the new risks contractors/construction companies were facing and developing contract clauses to protect the industry. I wrote a number of blog posts with clauses to add to your contra

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

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