Tuesday, March 27, 2012

HOMES Act includes rebates for wood appliances

The HOMES Act, H.R. 4230, recently introduced by Rep. McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT), would incentivize homeowners to undertake comprehensive energy-saving improvements. By creating a rebate program, the legislation would help homeowners afford specific home energy efficiency retrofits, including a combination of better windows, insulation, heating equipment, etc. that lower energy consumption and cost. The bill would authorize $500 million for the rebates each year from 2013 to 2016. Included are wood and pellet stoves that emit 3.0 grams an hour or less and boilers that emit .07 lbs per million BTU.

The HOMES Act, which stands for Home Owner Managing Energy Savings, is a departure from tax credits or rebates for particular appliances that the IRS used and Home Star would have used. It is based on performance and requires a professional energy audit to show how much energy is saved. It starts at $2,000 for homeowners who can demonstrate 20 percent savings and goes up incrementally to $8,000 or 50 percent of the project’s cost, whichever is less.

The emissions limits alone would include a vast majority of pellet stoves (90% or 178 out of 199 pellet stoves on the Washington state list are 3.0 or under). For wood stoves, it would include less than half of existing models (40% or 231 out of 572 wood stoves on the Washington State list are 3.0 or under). For outdoor wood boilers, there are four out of 30 boilers (two wood and two pellet) on the EPA’s list of qualified outdoor boilers that would qualify for the emissions threshold.

In addition, stoves have to be third party tested to a minimum of 75% efficiency (HHV) and boilers 80% efficiency. The HOMES Act pulled some language from the Home Star legislation, which never passed but stricter emission limits were added for boilers. Below is the full text of requirements for biomass appliances:

(c) Qualified Home Energy Efficiency Expenditures- For purposes of this section, the term `qualified home energy efficiency expenditures'--

(1) means any amount paid or incurred by a homeowner for a qualified home energy efficiency retrofit, including the cost of diagnostic procedures, labor, and modeling; and

(2) does not include--

(A) improvements to swimming pools or hot tubs; or

(B) any amount paid or incurred to purchase or install a biomass, wood, or wood pellet furnace, boiler, or stove, unless the system--

(i) is designed to meet at least 70 percent of the heating demands of the home;

(ii) in the case of woodstoves, is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency;

(iii) in the case of a wood stove replacement, replaces an existing wood stove with a stove that is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency, if a voucher is provided by the installer or other responsible party
certifying that the old stove has been removed and made inoperable;

(iv) in the case of a furnace or boiler, is in a home with a distribution system (such as piping, ducts, vents, blowers, or affixed fans) that allows heat from the furnace or boiler to reach all or most parts of the home; and

(v) is certified by an independent test laboratory approved by the Secretary as having--

(I) thermal efficiency (with a high heating value) of at least 75 percent for stoves and 80 percent for furnaces and boilers;

(II) particulate emissions of less than 3.0 grams per hour for wood stoves or pellet stoves; and

(III) less than 0.07 lbs per million BTU for outdoor boilers and furnaces.

Summary of the bill:

Entire text of bill:

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