Home and commercial building owners who install geothermal heating and cooling equipment are now eligible for federal tax credits, officials with WaterFurnace International announced.

The credits were included in the Energy Improvement and Extension Act, passed by Congress Oct. 3 as part of a package of economic stimulus bills designed to keep the nation’s economy from falling into a deep recession.

“By passing this important piece of legislation, Congress is encouraging the growth of renewable energy and the small businesses across the country that support it,” said Phil Albertson, WaterFurnace International ’s vice president of sales and marketing. WaterFurnace is a maker of geothermal HVAC systems.

“WaterFurnace dealers are excited about these tax incentives and the positive impact it will have on their business as geothermal systems become increasingly more attractive to both home and commercial building owners.”

For homeowners, the systems must meet EnergyStar requirements and have been installed after Dec. 31, 2007. For commercial buildings, the effective date was Oct. 3, 2008.

WaterFurnace’s board chairman, Tim Shields, said the geothermal portion of the bill was also good for U.S. homeowners and companies.

“We believe this incentive will encourage many more homeowners and business owners to install geothermal heat pumps,” Shields said. “Geothermal heat pumps are made right here in the U.S. and the machines used to put the renewable heat exchangers in the earth are all made right here. Every system installed requires skilled US labor and more installations mean more jobs. This is truly a homegrown solution to the energy crisis and a very good way to address the financial crisis at the same time. The systems were already growing in popularity, but this stimulus will help us have the impact on the economy and the environment much more quickly.”