Homeowners looking to upgrade their air conditioning this year are in luck because federal tax credits are available that help offset the cost of home improvements to lower energy consumption, including cooling systems. The credits are retroactive to 2012 and run through the end of 2013. The maximum a homeowner can receive under this 25C program is $500, and the most generous individual credit applies toward cooling equipment, totaling $300.
The minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) for qualifying systems runs between 14 and 16 and depend on the type you choose. Both central heat pumps and air conditioners qualify, and heat pumps must meet minimum HSPF (heating season performance factor) standards as well.
The current minimum SEER for all central cooling systems stands at 13 SEER, and each numeric increase in the SEER lowers your cooling costs. However, in order for you to get the biggest benefits from a high-efficiency system, you and your HVAC contractor need to take the following steps:
Choosing the size
HVAC contractors use software tools called Manuals J and D to accurately find the right tonnage (cooling capacity) for your system. These applications take into account the size of your home, its energy efficiency, floor plan design, and the heat you generate indoors, among other factors. Starting the sizing process early helps you learn if you could add insulation or seal air leaks to lower the size A/C that you need, both of which are long-term and cost-efficient ways to lower your cooling bill.
Once the tonnage has been established, the contractor moves onto the ductwork evaluation to determine if any changes are needed to match the new system for your home. He or she will also check for ductwork leaks and seal them.
Installing the equipment
The outdoor condensing unit should be located is in as shady a place as possible, away from landscaping that creates a lot of plant debris. The hot refrigerant from your home cools inside the condenser coil and anything that slows the process increases energy bills.
To learn more about taking advantage of these federal tax credits, please contact us at (503) 994-9924. We’ve provided trusted HVAC services for the greater Portland area since 1976.