How can I find the best rebates for home heating/cooling?
July 28, 2009 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Replacing the AC and furnace -- is now the time to buy? Tell me what you know about rebates!

So, our beloved and quaint and possible original (1950s) AC unit passed away quietly in the night. We knew when we bought this place that that thing was existing on a whisper and a prayer but for the Northwest we hoped it would last another couple years. We only need AC about two weeks per year... this week would be VERY nice to have it. So, now we're thinking about replacing it -- minimum quote is $4000.

While we're doing that, we are talking about our furnace. It is very old but works fine. However, we are on an oil tank and the cost of that is staggering and doesn't seem like it's likely to come down much. Last winter it cost us about $2500 for the season. This took us from October to March, so about $400/month for our 900 sf house. And, we kept it off most of the time.

So, we're thinking of switching to gas and replacing the furnace at the same time. Minimum cost, about $12,000.

The guy who came out and gave an estimate (we've worked with them before and like them but we'll be getting another bid) is all hopped up about their current rebates and how they will expire at the end of august and "who knows what'll be coming down the pipe" after that. So, how can I fact-check the current rebates -- is there a single source for this?
posted by amanda to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
12k sounds high. I just replaced an old oil burner with an 87% efficient gas burner. With the gas co rebate the burner cost $800.00, the installation about $3,000.
posted by Gungho at 8:58 AM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: Rebates are one thing (and I'm sure they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer) ... but what you really need to be educated in are the tax credits that are happening now. I believe this is the page you need.

A quote off that page reads "Tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, up to $1,500, in 2009 & 2010 (for existing homes only) for ... HVAC".

Keep in mind that only certain HVAC systems qualify for this, and they are all of the higher priced nature. But, combined with a tax credit and increases in efficiency, the higher price shouldn't be an issue.

Also, check with your local power company for rebates they may have available (separate from manufacturer rebates).
posted by Dave. at 9:09 AM on July 28, 2009

Call your local gas utility and ask them what they are offering for rebates and if there are any government rebates for upgrading to more efficient units (AC and furnace).
posted by jerseygirl at 9:20 AM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: DSIRE aggregates all the energy efficiency (and renewable energy) national, state, and local incentives.
posted by glibhamdreck at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: Do you have ductwork in your house? Is replacing the furnace and AC with a heat pump an option? That'll run you about $4k before the federal tax credit.

Since the tax credit is 30%, with a max of $1500, you can't really spend any more than $4500 and gain any additional benefit. Also the $1500 is the maximum you can receive for the year, so you'd have to wait another year to replace the furnace and receive any credit.
posted by electroboy at 10:20 AM on July 28, 2009

You could replace the AC with a heat pump and keep the oil furnace as auxiliary heat when it gets too cold for the the heat pump to keep up. Since you live in Portland, OR (according to your profile), you probably wouldn't have to use the oil furnace that often. I believe that a thermostat can be set up to automatically use the oil furnace if it's needed.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:47 AM on July 28, 2009

Best answer: Voting for the heat pump. I live in the Seattle area and got a heat pump last year. It's been doing a great job of keeping my house cool.

It works well in the winter to keep my house warm also--for two month my electric bill has averaging about $90 (that's heating in the winter and cooling in the summer). When it gets really cold, my natural gas furnace kicks in automatically--that ran me maybe $200 bucks this past winter.

Feel free to memail me if you have more questions on my experience with the heat pump in the PNW.
posted by Zoyashka at 12:35 PM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: Lots of good answers here and great leads -- you all have been so helpful! Thanks!
posted by amanda at 8:56 AM on July 29, 2009

I live in Portland also, and am making the exact same decision as amanda (creeeeeepy!). At what temperature (approximately) does the heat pump kick over to the furnace?

I realize it varies by the size of the house, insulation, windows, wind exposure, sun exposure, blah blah blah. So my house is also about 900' sq., new R30 insulation in the ceiling two years ago, single pane windows, lots of afternoon sun, very little morning sun. Southern exposure is the garage. I did recently invest in a new thermostat (Carrier Edge, which is wicked cool. You know, for a thermostat.) which can handle one of these "hybrid heat" or "duel fuel" systems.
posted by thomsplace at 9:12 AM on July 29, 2009

To clarify, at what temperature *outside* does the system normally kick over to the furnace?
posted by thomsplace at 9:23 AM on July 29, 2009

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