Homeowners who upgrade their air conditioning systems can qualify to receive a $1,500 rebate under a program recently announced.

The program will end on Friday, Dec. 31, or when the $15 million in rebate funds is depleted. It is expected to increase employment in the air conditioning industry and create new green jobs for home energy efficiency raters. 

“I encourage Floridians to learn about the state and federal financial rebate incentives and consider upgrading their residential air conditioning system…” Gov. Charlie Crist said in a statement. “This investment will benefit consumers, businesses and our entire state economy, as well as increase energy savings and improve the value of many Florida homes.”

Due to the limited amount of funds available, rebates will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Crist is encouraging residents to log on to the Web site www.rebates.com/floridahvac to learn details that could boost the likelihood of receiving a rebate.

Homeowners who purchase and install a new central air conditioner, air source heat pump or geothermal heat pump that meets Federal Energy Tax Credits standards can begin taking the first steps towards qualifying for a rebate of up to $1,500 per household.

Participants must meet all the requirements of the Florida ENERGY STAR® Residential HVAC Rebate Program. 

Rebates will be given in the form of an American Express Prepaid Card, which has no fees for monthly servicing or card replacement and the funds on the card never expire. The card can be exchanged for a check or an electronic funds transfer. 

The program is administered by the Florida Energy and Climate Commission and the Governor’s Energy Office and is made possible by a grant from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Florida legislation signed by Crist in 2009.

Here is how to qualify for a rebate, as indicated on the Web site:

• First, read all instructions for the Florida ENERGY STAR® Residential HVAC Rebate Program.

• Second, purchase and install a central air conditioner, air source heat pump or geothermal heat pump that meets the Federal Energy Tax Credits standards, now through Dec. 31.

• Third, make any necessary repairs to reduce leakage from the air conditioning duct system.

• Fourth, hire either a Florida Class 1 rater, State of Florida licensed Mechanical Contractor, or recognized test and balance agent to perform a duct test on your home to document no more than 15 percent leakage to the outside. 

• Fifth, submit a completed rebate application form, along with four additional documents:

1. A copy of the HVAC system price and payment receipt with the make and model clearly identified.

2. A copy of the mechanical building permit issued by either your county or city for your HVAC system replacement.

3. A copy of the summary (first page) of the ACCA Manual J program.

4. A copy of the Air Distribution System Test Report indicating a leakage score of 0.10 Qn.out or less.

All applications must be postmarked on or before Friday, Dec. 31, 2010. Since rebates will be distributed on a first-come first-served basis, the first applications to be processed will be more likely to receive rebates.