West / Regional Reports

HERO Financing for Energy Efficiency Improvements Hits $50 Million

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The HERO (home energy renovation opportunity) financing program allows homeowners in Western Riverside County to finance home energy and water efficiency improvements through their property taxes. The Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) has announced that $50 million in home energy retrofits have been financed since the program was launched in December 2011. The size of the program has increased rapidly, with half of the total dollars financed through HERO since July alone. With $325 million to be invested, WRCOG expects the HERO program to create as many as 4,000 jobs and save about 15 million kilowatt-hours in the area.

“The rapid expansion of the HERO financing program shows us that this is the right program at the right time for Western Riverside County residents,” said City of Calimesa Council Member Jim Hyatt, who also chairs WRCOG. “Homeowners are ready to make these investments, and convenient access to affordable financing encourages them to make their properties more energy and water efficient.”

HERO financing is designed to make it easier for property owners to make efficiency upgrades that save resources and lower utility bills while stimulating demand for construction services in the area. Contractors that register with the program can help homeowners apply for HERO financing, creating a one-stop approach to energy efficiency upgrades for consumers. To date, nearly 400 contractors in Riverside County have registered with the program.

The WRCOG HERO program is developed around the principles established by AB 811, which allows private property owners to pay for permanently affixed energy and water efficient products and renewable energy systems over time through their property taxes. These improvements are paid for as an assessment on the property itself. The program is managed and funded by Renovate America. Renovate America provides a turnkey system to local governments that makes the financing process seamless and allows the HERO program to run with no general fund impact.

HERO-eligible products range from HVAC systems and insulation to water heating to solar systems. The HERO financing program leverages home equity to secure the property owner’s investment in energy efficiency improvements. A homeowner’s FICO score is not a factor in determining eligibility, but there must be at least 10 percent equity available in the property to qualify. Payments are made over five, 10, 15, or 20 years and interest is tax deductible. If the property is sold before all payments are complete, the remaining balance can transfer to the new owner’s property tax bills.

To learn more about the HERO program, visit http://wrcog.herofinancing.com.

Publication date: 10/15/2012

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