If you have yet to hear about the Home Energy Loan Program, we can HELP. The innovative public-private partnership is aimed at lowering the costs for home energy efficiency improvements. HELP is a single family residential program that seeks to not only improve your home’s energy efficiency but also allows you to save some money while at it. A good example of the cost effective home improvements that HELP intends to achieve include; upgrading your insulation together with replacing your old furnace.
Photo Credit: Reuse Warehouse
In most cases people consider retrofitting as an expensive affair. Hence the reason why it is rarely practiced. Therefore, HELP is dedicated towards removing all the barriers. It offers all the solutions to the stumbling blocks. By providing low interest loans to qualified homeowners, HELP assists in improving the energy and water efficiencies in their residence. The cities are given the mandate to provide all the necessary funds to facilitate the improvements by the homeowner.
The repayment process works in such a way that the homeowner is required to repay the amount due in instalments to the City over a given period of time. The homeowner is charged on their property tax bill.
How Exactly Does It Work?
As an alternative to traditional financing, HELP has made some improvements. It allows a homeowner to enter into an agreement with the City in which they reside. You will be required to submit an application to the City’s Program. In the agreement, the City undertakes qualifying water conservation and energy efficiency improvements on a named property.
The City in turn imposes a special charge together with interest and other administrative charges that it are likely to incur in the course of making the improvements. In most cities, payment is made over a period of 15 years as a special charge which is indicated on your property tax bill. Since all the payment obligations are attached to the property and not the owner, a change in ownership means, the new owner assumes the repayment obligations. HELP is secured by the so called City’s priority lien status.
The Benefits of the Home Energy Loan Program
HELP was designed to take care of the following issues:
- Prevents the homeowner from incurring high initial costs associated with home energy improvements. The repayment process is spread over a long time, cushioning the owner.
- The fact that HELP financing is strictly attached to the property and the owner, once the property is sold all the payment obligations are transferred to the new owner.
- Payment can be made at any time as there is no penalty for delayed payments or default payments.
- As compared to other conventional financing options, HELP uses lower interest rates and allows you to repay your balance over a longer period of time.
- By increasing access to home energy efficiency retrofits it reduces utility burden and leads to an increased disposable income for working families.
Eligible Home Energy Improvements
HELP supports the following improvements:
- Furnace/boiler improvements
- Central air conditioner improvements
- Water heater improvements
- Window/door replacements
- Energy recovery ventilators
- Exterior wall insulations
- Toilet replacements
- Basement insulation
Photo Credit: Josh and Melanie Rosenthal
Before one begins to reap the benefits of HELP, they need to go through the application process:
A home owner is provided with a Pre-Application Form which they need to fill. From your application, the City will then determine your eligibility and the maximum amount of funding available to you.
b) Home Energy Assessment and Funding Request
Find a certified Energy Advisor to conduct the home energy assessment which in most cases includes: basement to attic assessment, assessing the heating and cooling systems, leak detections among others. Once it is done, you’ll get a full report on the energy efficiency levels of your home and the proposed recommendations.
c) Property Owner Agreement
The City will only send you this once your funding request is approved. You’ll be required to sign the POA and return it to the City.
d) Complete the Improvements
Hire a contractor to complete the improvements. Once this is done, request the Energy Advisor to conduct a final assessment and make a report to be submitted to the City for final disbursement.
e) Time to repay your loan
Once the project is complete, the City will demand that you honour the agreement and make payments appropriately.