Monday, August 23, 2010

A/C rebates up to $1,500 Begin Monday Aug 30

A new program will give Florida residents who buy energy-efficient air conditioners a $1,500 rebate -- as long as no more than 15 percent of the cool air leaks out of their ducts.
Get them while it's hot -- and save $1,500.

Starting Monday, Aug. 30, Florida will offer about $15 million in rebates for Energy Star-rated air conditioners, air source heat pumps and geothermal heat pumps. Each rebate is worth $1,500.

People who buy units from Monday, Aug. 30, through Dec. 31 qualify unless the money has run out before then. Purchases before Monday don't count.

Despite this summer's scorching heat, and the availability of other discounts including a federal tax credit, the state expects the money to last for a while.

New central air conditioners can cost several thousand dollars, and the state's program requires duct testing to make sure no more than 15 percent of the cool air a unit produces is leaking. That will require buyers to hire someone to test their ducts and possibly make repairs to qualify for the rebates.

``Air conditioning systems are not like kitchen appliances where someone will replace them when they feel like it. A homeowner will wait until their system dies before they replace it because those systems are so expensive,'' said Brenda Buchan, chief analyst in the governor's energy office. ``Because we are requiring the homeowner have their ducts tested to qualify, there will be some customers who do not want to be bothered.''

Duct testing must be done by a Florida Class 1 rater, Florida licensed mechanical contractor or recognized test and balance agent.

The state estimates that about 12 percent won't qualify because their duct systems can't be accessed for repair. The money, enough for nearly 10,000 rebates, is from the federal stimulus law passed in early 2009 that was given to states. The state is using $63,000 of the money to run the program, Buchan said.

To qualify, units must meet the requirements for a federal tax credit also designed to encourage energy efficient purchases. The tax credit is worth up to 30 percent of the price of a new unit, including installation charges, up to $1,500.

Single-room or window units are not eligible for rebates. They were included in a state appliance rebate program earlier this year.

At All Air of South Dade, Operations Manager Robert Dibenedetto said he welcomes the new program.

``It will be definitely be a little help,'' he said. ``Anything that reduces cost to the customer is a good thing.''

Duct testing can cost about $350, he said, and can be useful. Leaks mean ``you're air conditioning areas that don't need air conditioning.''

Dibenedetto said all manufacturers offer qualifying units, which must be rated at least 16 SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency rating, and 13 EER, or energy efficiency rating, for split system air conditioners.

Requests for rebates must include the application form, which will be available Monday, Aug. 30, at

An application must be accompanied by a copy of the receipt for the new unit with the make and model clearly identified, a copy of the permit issued by a municipality for replacement of the system, a copy of the first page of the ACCA Manual J program and a copy of the Air Distribution Test System Report that shows a leakage score of 0.10 Qn.out or less. Only Florida residents are eligible for the rebates.

They will be issued as American Express Prepaid Cards, which will never expire or have monthly fees. The cards can be exchanged for checks or an electronic deposit.

The rebates can be combined with manufacturer rebates, electric company rebates and the federal tax credit, which requires new cooling systems be installed at primary residences.

Energy Star ratings are created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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