Homeowners haven’t totally missed the boat on last year’s home heating tax credits. Boston home heating can hit you right where it counts – in the pocketbook – so programs designed to reduce the cost of modernizing your Boston home heating system are welcome, no matter how much they cover.
This year, the generous $1,500 tax credit for certain home heating modernizations is gone with the wind. You can still claim 30% of the cost of improvements up to $500. Covered improvements include home heating, certain hot water heaters, air conditioning units and biomass stoves. One additional catch is that if you’ve claimed $500 or more in energy-efficiency tax credits between December 31, 2005 and December 31, 2010, you’re out of luck for this particular opportunity. If you’ve claimed less than $500 in the past five years, your cap will be modified, based on how much in credits you have claimed.
What does this mean for the Boston homeowner? The credit is still valuable if you want to modernize your home heating system. Aside from the tax credit, switching to a high-efficiency home heating system can reduce heating costs by as much as 50%, so even without the full value of the tax credit, updating your Boston home heating system may actually end up putting money in your pocket within the space of a few years.
Other credits for home heating and cooling include a tax credit of up to $50 for the addition of an advanced Main Air circulating fan. This device gives a boost to the blower on your furnace, and helps move heated air efficiently through your ductwork. By circulating heated air into the living space faster, the furnace actually uses less energy and runs less often.
A tax credit of up to $300 is available for Boston homeowners who want to install an air source heat pump. Heat pumps are highly efficient at exchanging heated and cooled air, and can provide as much as four times more energy (in the form of heated or cooled air) to your home than they consume. Split systems with a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) of at least 8.5, an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of at least 12.5 or a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio of at least 15 are eligible for the credit.
Thinking ahead to summer, homeowners can add central air conditioning in Boston and claim a cool $300 tax credit at the same time. Split systems that are rated with a SEER of at least 16 or an EER of at least 13 are eligible. Package systems with a SEER rating of 14 or better, or an EER of 12 or better are also eligible.
There are other credits still available for non-solar gas or electric hot water heating systems and gas, oil or propane furnaces. I’ll have more about these in a future post.