Home and commercial building owners who install geothermal heating and cooling systems are now eligible for federal tax incentives under the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008.

Congress passed the legislation Oct. 3 as part of the economic recovery package.

“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 WaterFurnace International Vice President of Sales and Marketing Phil Albertson. “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.”

The Energy Improvement and Extension Act offers a one-time tax credit of 30 percent of the total investment for residential ground loop or ground water geothermal heat pump installations, with a maximum credit of $2,000 for a single residence. The legislation also provides a credit of 10 percent of the total investment, with no maximum, for commercial system installations.

To qualify for the tax credit, residential systems must meet Energy Star requirements, and legislation is retroactive to residential systems installed after Dec. 31, 2007. The tax credit for commercial buildings begins with systems installed after Oct. 3, 2008.

“We believe this incentive will encourage many more homeowners and business owners to install geothermal heat pumps,” said Tim Shields, WaterFurnace board chairman. “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 U.S. 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.”