Heating and Cooling Solutions

Tax Refunds and Mini Splits

Dear Comfort Advisor,

I have heard a lot about these ductless heat pumps from the Co-op and understand that there is a rebate available but apparently there are some strings attached. I see you are preferred installer, can you clarify the requirements?
- Ductless Dan

Dear Dan,

The program you are referring to is called the Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Project. It is administered by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and is active In Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington. NEEA administers the program for various funding partners that include the BPA, but each local electric utility manages the program for their customers and could have unique application forms and modified incentives. The pilot program kicked off last year and had an original end date of September 30th, 2009. BPA announced an extension of the program and there has been a few modifications to those “strings” you mentioned. As a contractor we are kept informed of program updates via a monthly newsletter. So requirements and restrictions are subject to change.

The purpose of this project “is to demonstrate the use of inverter-driven ductless heat pumps to displace electric resistance heat in single family homes across the region.” So, a key eligibility requirement is that your home must use permanently installed zonal electric resistance heat as the primary source (electric baseboard, electric radiant, etc.). The house cannot be new construction, have a fossil fuel central forced air system or fossil fuel hydronic system, have a ducted heat pump system, or have a temporary foundation. The home owner must allow their utility to make their billing history available to the Project for up to two years prior to and two years post installation, and agree to participate in the Project evaluation activities.

The Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC) has done a fantastic job implementing this program locally and will happily answer any of your questions. As an approved installer for the program, we have a responsibility to verify that your home qualifies for the program, install the equipment properly and to quality standards, complete paperwork accurately, and to educate you on system operations. It is our experience that the paperwork has been processed in a very timely manner.

Each qualifying home is eligible for a single $1,350 rebate, even if the home needs more than one unit. An indoor unit must be installed in the main living area of the home in order to qualify. These also qualify for a $500.00 Montana tax credit per tax payer ($1,000.00 per couple). The federal tax credit of 30% of installed cost up to $1,500.00 is also available on many models, although some multi-unit models do not qualify. Adding up these incentives makes your out-of-pocket investment quite small for the benefits you receive. While these incentives are nice, they could be temporary but the substantial long-term energy savings should be the main motivating factor for your decision. These ductless systems are at least twice as efficient as electric resistant heat. The fact that they cool wonderfully and have built in air cleaners may come in handy during a smoky fire season. Folks with allergies can also benefit. I offer free quotes and have many years of experience installing and servicing these systems.

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