Going green is a big deal today, especially as more people learn about our impact on the planet and the many new ways we can help lower it. There’s a lot to love when it comes to living Earth-friendly. Along with doing the right thing for the environment, homeowners can also save a lot of money on utility bills.
Saving in the long run and making the planet a better place to live sounds great, until homeowners start investigating the initial cost of making their existing home “green”. It can be intimidating to invest so much money at once when the equipment you already have is working to your standards. And for some, no matter how badly they would like to switch, it simply isn’t in their budget. That’s where the HERO program comes in.
HERO, or Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, is an exciting program that lives up to its epic name. For anyone who hasn’t already heard, this effort provides financing for commercial and residential property owners who are interested in going green. Those who are approved can receive 100% financing for the purchase and installation of eco-friendly equipment and products.
The program includes low fixed interest rates and comfortable payment terms that range from 5 to 20 years. Property owners can also choose to make their payments through their annual property taxes.
In August 2014, Renovate America CEO J.P. McNeill was interviewed by U-T San Diego. He provided deeper insight into how the HERO program works and why it came to be. He explained that he wanted to help others live a sustainable lifestyle. He mentioned the one thing many people know well – it’s very easy to tell someone to live sustainably, but very difficult to actually achieve that goal. HERO was created in 2011 to make it possible for more families to take action.
HERO isn’t based on the dreaded consumer credit score. According to McNeill, “we are really lending to the parcel and not to the homeowner.” He explained that the individual must own their home, be current on property taxes and/or be current on their mortgage to qualify.
The eligible products must also meet certain specifications. They must be permanently attached energy or water saving devices that are Energy Star rated. Using these guidelines, something like energy efficient windows and doors will qualify while a refrigerator (which can be removed from the property) will not.
According to McNeill, HERO has completed nearly 14,000 projects with an estimated total worth of around $260 million. That means many property owners are already using the program to live greener, so should you do the same?
If you plan to move at some point during the duration of your HERO loan, don’t worry. The program doesn’t lock you into the property. Since the loan is attached to the home or commercial building and not the owner, you can sell while paying off a HERO loan. The loan will stay with the property, so it will be up to the buyers to determine if they are ok with that.
McNeill also outlined consumer protections that are in place, including homeowner sign off when work is complete, required contractor training courses and local government consent (the program is only available if the local government allows it).
Map of San Diego (mapsofworld.com)
Many cities around San Diego County have already accepted HERO and are improving neighborhoods with the program. These cities include Carlsbad, El Cajon, Escondido, Lemon Grove, Oceanside, San Diego, San Marcos, Solana Beach, Vista, and Unincorporated Areas..
Future additions in San Diego County include the cities of Coronado, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, and La Mesa! Check the official HERO program website to find out if your community is eligible or will be eligible soon.