Tackling energy-efficient upgrades to your home can reduce monthly utility bills, boost the value of your property and lessen your impact on Colorado’s environment. To make this a reality, consider applying for a home energy loan. While many homeowners believe the only qualifying project for this loan type is solar panel installation, that’s not true! There are many eco-friendly projects a home energy loan can fund, from heating and cooling to windows and doors. Use this list to inspire your next remodeling adventure.
What is a home energy loan?
As a homeowner, you can apply for a loan to make your home more energy efficient by way of updates. Home energy loans aren’t solely for massive home projects; the minimum amount Elevations will finance for a home energy loan is $500. That might be the perfect amount to tackle that weekend project that’s been lingering on your to-do list!
Which projects qualify for a home energy loan?
We suggest grabbing a notebook and taking a walk around your home. Review the items indicated in the list below and note if your systems are worn, outdated or could use an upgrade to be more efficient and put less of a strain on the power grid here on the Front Range. In addition, consider visiting the government’s ENERGY STAR website to learn how to save energy and get rebates and tax credits for making residential energy efficiency updates.
At Elevations, we collaborate with Efficiency Works™, an energy-focused partnership among Estes Park Power & Communications, Fort Collins Utilities, Longmont Power & Communications, Loveland Water and Power and Platte River Power Authority. Between 2015 and 2019, the organization has saved 123,058 MWh. That’s equivalent to the energy usage of 11,500 homes in our communities!
When it comes to the appliances we depend on each day, get ahead of the game by updating them before they break — we all know it’s no fun going without a refrigerator or washing machine. You can use an energy loan from Elevations to purchase ENERGY STAR appliances such as refrigerators, clothes washers, dryers, dishwashers and freezers.
For example, the average life span of a refrigerator is 10 years. If yours is getting up there in age, use ENERGY STAR’s Flip Your Fridge Calculator to determine how much your current refrigerator costs to operate and the amount of carbon pollution it emits. This calculator might help you decide it’s time to purchase a new model that’s more budget conscious and eco-friendly.
Energy analysis & monitoring
New to homeownership? You can use a home energy audit to learn what updates you can make to your home to become more energy-efficient. A local contractor in your area can conduct a home energy audit.
You can also install home monitoring equipment that gives you feedback on your power usage, like a smart, programmable thermostat. A smart thermostat allows for the automation of your home’s temperature, including energy-saving changes like turning the furnace down a few degrees when you’re asleep or not home.
Insulation & air sealing
Reducing energy costs starts with keeping your heating and cooling inside your home. By evaluating and refreshing the insulation in your home’s walls, floors, foundation and attic, as well as replacing the seals around your doors (don’t forget the garage door, too!) and ductwork, you can lower and stabilize energy costs.
By completing insulation and air sealing tasks around your home, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates you can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling bills. That means an expense currently at $200 per month would drop to $170!
Light bulbs burn energy. The types of bulbs you use in your home affect your power bill and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Consider upgrading to ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs and fixtures that use up to 90% less energy. As a bonus, these bulbs last 15 times longer than other bulbs.
As you evaluate your lighting, make a list of bulb needs for lamps, ceiling fans, ceiling lighting, exterior home lighting and built-ins, like under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen or bulbs tucked away in a shower surround.
Solar PV & solar thermal
We know going green can cost some green. Options like the Colorado RENU Loan can help you fund up to $50,000 for home energy efficiency upgrades like solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that convert solar energy into electricity.
You might also consider a residential solar thermal system, which provides hot water (warmed by the sun) as energy to heat your home.
Space heating & cooling
A home energy loan can also be used to upgrade some of the critical systems in your home, including ENERGY STAR furnaces, boilers, evaporative coolers (whole house, wall and window) and central air units.
These appliances are some of the most expensive in your home to replace, with furnaces and central air units starting at $5,000 to $10,000. For many homeowners, a home energy loan makes replacing broken or non-repairable systems financially feasible.
Speaking of large appliances, your hot water heater is right up there with your HVAC system. A home energy loan can be used to purchase a new ENERGY STAR-rated traditional storage or tankless water heater and heat pumps.
If you run out of hot water during morning showers or your household is expanding, upgrading to a larger hot water heater, or one that cycles hot water faster, can bring extra comfort to your home.
Windows, doors & skylights
Finally, you might discover that updating the seals on your doors wasn’t enough to reduce drafts. Are you feeling a light breeze near your windows and doors? Then, it’s time to shop for replacements.
You can use a home energy loan to purchase ENERGY STAR windows and exterior doors. If you have a historic home, mention this on your application as preapproval is required for particular window types in the program.
How to get started with a home energy loan
Elevations’ home energy loans are available to homeowners in Boulder County through EnergySmart, in Fort Collins through Efficiency Works™, and statewide through the Colorado RENU Loan.
Learn more by calling an Energy Advisor at 303.544.1000 (EnergySmart in Boulder County) or 877.981.1888 (Efficiency Works™ in Fort Collins). Outside of these areas, find participating contractors on RENU’s website.
Your Energy Advisor will help you identify available rebates and financial incentives, plus connect you with a participating contractor. Learn more about energy loans from Elevations and get more resources here.