As another Minnesota winter approaches, homeowners may be looking to replace an old, worn-out or inefficient heating system with a new high-efficiency model.
Most furnaces have a useful life of 15-20 years, while most boilers will last 20-30 years. If your furnace or boiler is nearing the end of its expected life, you should start planning your replacement strategy, including what to buy and how to pay for it.
If you have made the decision to buy a new heating system, the Minnesota Commerce Department wants you to be aware of some options to help pay for it:
- Loans. The Lending Center at the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) offers the Home Energy Loan Program for Minnesota homeowners to make energy improvements. It offers secured loans of up to $20,000 (4.99% fixed rate, terms up to 10 years, no income max limit) and an Unsecured Home Energy Program with unsecured loans of up to $15,000 (4.99% fixed rate, terms up to 10 years, no income max limit). The Minnesota Housing Finance Agency offers similar loans via its Fix Up Program.
- Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit. A federal tax credit of $150 is available for ENERGY STAR®-certified natural gas, propane or oil furnaces or hot water boilers purchased by Dec. 31, 2016.
- Utility rebates. Many utilities offer rebates for high-efficiency heating systems. For example, Xcel Energy currently provides a $300 rebate for a new furnace with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of 96%. Check the Utility Rebate Finder from Energy Smart to see what your utility provides, or contact your utility directly.
- Manufacturer’s rebate. Some heating system manufacturers may offer rebates on certain models. Check with your HVAC installer.
Most of the incentives (rebates, loans, grants, tax credits) are compiled on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (www.dsireusa.org).
Low-income Minnesotans who qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program may receive energy upgrades such as furnace, boiler and water heater repair or replacement. Call 800-657-3710 for more information.
For more information on home heating systems, including maintenance and repair tips and when to replace units, see the Home Heating section of the Minnesota Commerce Department’s Home Energy Guide (pdf).
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Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the department’s Energy Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.