We’ve talked a lot lately about energy-efficient upgrades for your home, especially ones that qualify for rebates. And while rebates can be a great way to save money and energy at the same time, they’re not always the best option for all homeowners. Rebates require a fair amount of up-front capital; you can’t get them without paying a bit of money first. That makes them a good option if you have the finances to do that, but what if you don’t? A financing program like PACE might be just the option for you.
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy)
We had a client who wanted to insulate her attic and seal her ducts. She had us come to her house and do a free energy efficiency assessment, and those were the two improvements we suggested to get the most “bang for her buck.” But as affordable as these upgrades were, it still wasn’t an option for this client. She’d just bought the house and was a little strapped for disposable cash. But she still needed the upgrades.
We recommended that she check out PACE financing options. PACE financing is just like a car loan: it goes towards a specific project, pays for that project in full, and then you pay it off over a period of 5 – 25 years depending on the amount borrowed and the rate of repayment you choose. PACE stands for “Property Assessed Clean Energy,” and it’s a national program to help homeowners upgrade their homes and save energy for everybody in the process.
This particular client wanted to insulate her attic and seal her ducts, but PACE financing covers more projects than just those two. From window sealing to solar installation, there are a lot of green energy improvements that PACE will help pay for. PACE will even help you replace your roof, upgrade your yard, and upgrade your light bulbs to LEDs.
Lots of Options, But Where to Start?
Our homeowner started with a free energy assessment, and that’s an important first step. Only projects done through qualified contractors will receive PACE loans, so you have to start with a contractor. Once they’ve assessed your home and you’ve figured out what you need to do, they’ll help you go through the loan application process. An important step that not all contractors take is to vet the proposed work plan with a noninterested third party. This inspector will make sure you’ll actually qualify for PACE financing before you sign the financing papers and before the work begins.
Once the dust starts to fly, you can step back and watch your upgrades as they happen. The contractor will work with you the whole way, keeping you up to speed and answering any questions you might have. After the work is complete, then you’ll receive the money.
Our client was able to secure a PACE loan with no money down, and that’s one of the biggest benefits of PACE financing. Under these loans, you can upgrade your home without a large amount of capital at the start of the project. In an ideal world, everyone would be able to apply for rebates and not take out PACE loans — but these low-interest incentive loans are a great way to save yourself money in the long run. Home upgrades are an excellent way to save money on the monthly utility bill, and to replace or repair failing parts of the home before it becomes prohibitively expensive to do so.
Another benefit of PACE loans is that they often stay with the property — for example, most HERO loans (which is a type of PACE program) apply to the property being upgraded, not the person taking them out. That means that if you upgrade and move, you won’t be paying for someone else to reap the benefits — they’ll take over the loan repayment.
Your Next Step
So what’s your next step? Maybe you’re eying new windows, a rooftop solar array, a lawn that uses gray water. Maybe you want your ducts sealed, your attic insulated, or a home lit with the power of LEDs. Whatever you’re inspired by, whatever you’re dreaming of, your upgrades can be a reality. These projects are all excellent next steps towards your home’s energy efficiency goal.
But your first step is to call a qualified contractor and have them assess your home and work with you. Remember that, just like collecting rebates, not all contractors are qualified to do PACE work. If they’re a solid company and they qualify for PACE program work, you’ll be in great hands. From the first assessment to the project-planning to the paper-signing and completion of work, they’ll be there for you every step of the way and walk you through the whole process. So why wait? Take the first step towards the home you want.