California might just be the most unique state in the nation. There are a number of things that our home state a special place, including its natural beauty, the laid back style of the folks who live here, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a few. Those are all great reasons to love being a California resident, but there are also some solid financial benefits as well. In fact, there’s a big one that most folks tend to miss out on, usually because they don’t know enough about it. I’m talking about the abundance of financing offers we are eligible for related to taking a whole house approach to energy efficiency.
For green-minded homeowners in Northern California who want to invest in energy and water efficiency, there’s the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) Program. With HERO energy efficiency financing, Northern California homeowners can upgrade their home’s overall efficiency through special financing dedicated for installing solar panels, new windows, updated HVAC systems, low flow plumbing, and more. But it’s up to individual homeowners to take advantage of HERO, with the help of a local expert.
When I ask homeowners ready to go green at home why they haven’t already looked into HERO energy efficiency financing, the most common response is that they didn’t know about. The second most common response is that while they’ve heard of HERO, they weren’t exactly sure how it applied to them and their unique houses or financial circumstances. So, I’ve put together a brief guide that could potentially save our NorCal clients and neighbors quite a bit of money when they’re ready to finance energy efficient home upgrades. Here’s what you need to know to be the first on your block to go green and clean.
HERO Energy Efficiency Financing: The Basics
HERO financing can cover up to 100 percent of a homeowner’s energy efficiency or water saving home upgrades. HERO offers up to a 25-year term with fixed rates and allows folks to borrow up to 15 percent of their home’s total value to finance green upgrades to their house, like HVAC replacement costs.
That means you can get a more efficient HVAC system, one that will generate just as much cool air while burning less power, lowering your utility bills in the process, without having to pay for the unit and the installation upfront in cash or go into high-interest debt. It’s a good deal, one I highly recommend to most eligible homeowners.
Renovations and upgrades eligible through HERO financing include:
- HVAC heating and cooling systems
- Windows and doors
- Plumbing, including water heater appliances
- Solar panels
- Drought-resistant landscaping
A trained HVAC, window, or plumbing expert familiar with HERO and energy efficient home renovation can help ensure that you’re investing in specific appliances and upgrades that qualify.
Who’s Eligible for HERO Energy Efficiency Financing?
HERO is currently only available in three states: Missouri, Florida, and California (lucky us!). In California, 85 percent of homeowners are eligible for HERO financing, including most Northern California towns. Both Stockton and Sacramento (two of the largest cities in our region) participate in this program, as do more than a dozen others nearby.
Part of the reason that so many homeowners in our coverage area haven’t heard about HERO energy efficient financing yet, or don’t know the ins and outs, is because Sacramento was one of 16 cities and five counties across California to just recently adopt HERO financing. Now that it’s available in our area, I recommend that responsible homeowners check in to see if they’re a good candidate to take advantage of it.
Participating in HERO Financing as an Energy Conscious NorCal Homeowner
In general, I highly recommend HERO financing for any homeowner eligible for it. In Northern California we have a Mediterranean climate, which means long, sweltering summers with months and months when it’s unlikely that we’ll see even a single cloud, making things like energy efficient AC units and solar panels fantastic investments.
With that in mind, transitioning your home to greater energy efficiency often pays for itself with the energy you save, but that doesn’t change the fact that a good deal of capital is needed up front. Some folks hesitate to make that investment because they don’t have the cash readily accessible, or it would require taking on a high-interest loan. With the help of HERO financing, though, that’s no longer a concern.
There are two main steps once you’ve decided to apply for HERO financing:
- Step #1: File an online application. Luckily, you can apply online after you check to make sure your house is eligible here. Some homeowners in my experience tend to worry that their credit scores will hinder their chances of approval, but that’s simply not the case. Whether or not you get approved is based primarily on equity, rather than credit. HERO financing is for homeowners who do not have mortgage-related debt exceeding 90% of the property’s value. There are no upfront costs and loans are decided based on property value. Terms are anywhere from 5 to 25 years. And HERO walks you through the entire process on their website.
- Step #2: Find a local, certified contractor. The HERO program works alongside professional contractors who implement HERO’s industry-leading consumer safeguards to protect homeowners’ investments. Once you’ve found a contractor who offers HERO financing, they can help you with the step-by-step processes to get your financing—and energy efficient home improvements—underway.
There you have it, everything you need to get started on taking advantage of HERO energy efficient financing. As you probably noticed, in order to enjoy the perks of the program, you need to work alongside a certified contractor you trust. This is especially helpful when it comes to getting all your specific questions answered and, trust me, most homeowners will have a question or two throughout the renovation process.
It’s an easy pun to make, but this financing option may be your own personal HERO when it comes to finding a way to increase your home’s energy efficiency, saving you money on your monthly utility bills and upping your clean and green cred. That all sounds pretty heroic to me.
At Bell Brothers, we’re proud to be part of HERO’s network of contractors, helping homeowners improve their energy efficiency through HVAC, AC, window, and plumbing upgrades. We’ll help you conserve water and energy.
Connect with us today to learn more about how you can take advantage of HERO financing by teaming up with the local whole house energy efficiency experts at Bell Brothers.
Image courtesy Unsplash user Jonathan Simcoe