HERO financing program helps homeowners save water, energy

The City Council of Del Mar has launched the HERO Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program. HERO PACE financing enables homeowners to make energy- and water-efficient improvements and pay for them through their property tax bill. Property owners repay the assessment over five to 20 years, and the interest is tax-deductible. Homeowners see immediate savings on utility bills.

With California’s newly adopted regulations aimed at reducing urban water consumption by 25 percent, PACE financing is a particularly appealing option for homeowners and municipalities.

“Between the extended drought and rising energy costs, property owners are eager to make the types of investments HERO supports,” said Blair McNeill, vice president of Community Development for Renovate America, which administers the HERO Program. “We’re happy to provide an avenue for financing that requires no money down and does not depend on personal credit, bringing efficiency improvements within reach for a broad range of homeowners.”

Seventeen other communities in San Diego County launched HERO over the past year and a half. In that time, homeowners in these communities have completed almost 4,000 projects, for a total of $89 million in financing from HERO. Communities include Carlsbad, Coronado, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista, as well as the unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

As California’s drought drags on, eligible retrofits give homeowners a fast, affordable way to lower water bills and conserve a desperately needed resource. HERO has a variety of products to help homeowners save water, including high-efficiency toilets, faucets and showerheads; drip irrigation systems; rainwater catchment systems; graywater systems; and artificial turf and drought-tolerant landscaping.

A variety of energy-saving products are available through HERO, too. Some of HERO’s most popular products include solar panel installations, whole-home heating and cooling systems, energy-saving windows and doors, roofing and insulation.

The HERO Program’s success rests in its extensive contractor network. When a homeowner faces unexpected and inevitable repairs such as a broken water heater or leaking roof, HERO-qualified contractors can steer their customers toward more efficient upgrades. Bringing HERO into the process has many advantages for the homeowner. Homeowners can select a truly efficient product for their repair since they don’t have to put down large amounts of money upfront; they then enjoy immediate savings on water and/or energy bills. Cities and counties benefit through economic stimulus and local job growth, while helping their communities reach state-imposed water and energy savings goals.

HERO has helped fund more than 33,000 residential efficiency projects totaling more than $650 million in financing in California. By stimulating home renovation activity, the HERO Program increases demand for local contractor services. HERO is estimated to have spurred the creation of more than 5,500 jobs in California since beginning in December 2011.

HERO’s ongoing contribution to the environment is significant and growing daily. An estimated 4.5 billion KwHs of energy are already being saved by completed projects. This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 28,000 homes’ energy use for a year. Water-efficiency projects HERO has helped finance to date will save 790 million gallons of water, or the equivalent of 25 million showers. If every resident of California used HERO, we could save the equivalent of twice the volume of Lake Tahoe, every year.

PACE is relatively new, so it is essential that customers educate themselves about the details of this type of financing. HERO’s consumer protection policy sets the industry standard for PACE financing. HERO-qualified contractors undergo rigorous training aimed at ensuring customers are fully informed about the costs and benefits of the Program. Funding is made available to the contractor only after the homeowner has indicated full satisfaction with the completed project. HERO also staffs a hotline to respond to homeowner queries that is available for 15 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cities and counties need only pass a resolution to make PACE programs like HERO available to local property owners.

To learn more about the HERO Financing Program, and to apply, visit www.HEROProgram.com or call 855-HERO-411 (855-437-6411).

Copyright © 2017, Del Mar Times
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