Is Energy Efficiency Worth the Money?

Posted by Dylan Taft on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 at 8:47am.

Supporters of energy efficiency in homes and businesses claim that upgrading to energy efficient appliances, insulation, lighting, windows and other components will save Americans billions in the long run. Yet skeptics and adherents alike are wondering: how do we afford these upgrades?

The upfront expense of upgrading to more energy efficient products can be a huge obstacle for many Americans. While low-cost items such as energy efficient lights are accessible additions to many homes, big-ticket items like energy efficient air conditioners or high value insulation installations leave many homeowners wondering how to finance such large investments. The good news is that there are a number of different agencies, organizations and companies creating financing arrangements for those Americans wishing to retrofit their homes for energy efficiency. Entrepreneurs, utility companies and various governments—local, state and federal—are all attempting to show property owners that energy efficient upgrades are not only feasible, but wise as well.

“Property Assessed Clean Energy” (PACE) is a program which loans property owners money for energy efficient upgrades and renovations. Loan repayments through the PACE program are attached to the borrower’s property tax bills, creating an easy and seamless repayment method that also allows borrowers to pass the loan value on to any successive buyers without personally being on the hook for repayment. By September 2009, 17 states across the country had participated in the PACE program at various local levels, suggesting the concept is winning advocates.

On the federal level, the Federal Housing Administration has a pilot program dubbed “PowerSaver”, in which homeowners that meet certain credit requirements can borrow up to $25,000 to finance a selected group of energy related upgrades and improvements.

Besides federal and national programs, there are local programs across the country looking to ease the cost burden of energy efficiency. According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, there are currently 221 energy efficiency loan programs offered in 48 states by utility companies and governments that provide funds for homeowners and businesses interested in energy efficiency. The rise in cost-conscious programs may mean that the expense of energy efficient upgrades may not hinder retrofits for much longer—interested home and business owners need only apply.

See Also: Energy Saving Tips  

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