ARLINGTON, Va. - The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) said that the economic stimulus bill signed into law by President Obama provides a number of incentives to upgrade the nation’s heating and cooling system infrastructure, creating thousands of jobs, reducing the energy costs of homes and buildings, and helping achieve the nation’s environmental goals faster.

“This bill provides enhanced incentives for consumers to upgrade existing heating and cooling equipment and it provides funding for the federal government, states, and cities to improve energy efficiency in buildings and schools,” said AHRI President Stephen Yurek. “We are thrilled that there appears to be a paradigm shift in how policymakers view our industry. They now rightly see us as the solution providers we are and they have provided the market stimulus to help us provide those energy-saving solutions for the good of the nation.”

For consumers, the bill includes:

• An uncapped 30 percent tax credit for the purchase of solar water heaters and geothermal heat pumps (that means those who purchase such equipment can claim a credit for a full 30 percent of the purchase price, regardless of the total cost).

• A $1,500 aggregate tax credit, beginning with the date of enactment (Feb. 17, 2009), that consumers can claim for qualified energy efficient home improvements. The efficiency levels for split air conditioners and heat pumps have been modified to reflect the highest tier of the 2009 Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) specification. Therefore, only 95 percent AFUE gas furnaces; 90 percent AFUE oil furnaces; 16 SEER/13 EER and above central air conditioners; 15 SEER/12.5 EER/8.5 HSPF split heat pumps; 0.82 energy factor/90 percent thermal efficiency gas, propane, or oil water heaters; and 90 percent AFUE gas, propane, or oil-fired boilers would qualify. This provision replaces the current tax incentives for these products.

For governments, the bill includes:

• $9.75 billion to states for use, if they so choose, to modernize and renovate schools’ heating and cooling systems.

• $3.6 billion for Department of Defense energy efficiency projects and facility modernization.

• $4.5 billion to the General Services Administration for conversion of federal buildings to High-Performance Green Buildings.

• $4 billion to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for energy retrofits for public housing, plus an additional $510 million to do the same for Native American housing programs.

AHRI said it intends to provide information to federal agencies and state and local governments advising them on energy-saving ways to use their stimulus funds.

“We look forward to working with the federal government and with state and local governments to ensure they have the information they need to put their stimulus money to use in the most productive way, saving energy and protecting the environment for decades to come,” Yurek said.

Publication date:02/23/2009