Clean Energy Upgrade Program A HERO For California Residents, Economy

Making energy-efficient improvements to your home can save thousands of dollars and provide a healthier indoor environment. With utility prices at an all time high, there are few homeowner who would shy away from a chance to save some money. The only problem is that retrofitting your home with solar panels or a tank-less water heater takes money–lots of it. Homeowners who lack the financing to install these upgrades often get stuck in a limbo of high bills and an inability to do anything about them.

Officials in California’s Western Riverside County knew there had to be a better way. In December 2011, The Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) created the HERO Financing Program, a way for property owners to pay off the cost of energy-efficient upgrades over time. In less than a year, the program has been a smashing success, with $50 million in home energy retrofits installed.

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According to the WRCOG, consumer demand has caused the size of the Program to increase rapidly, with half of the total dollars financed through HERO since July alone. The program 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. Because energy-efficient upgrades improve home and property values, they are paid for as an assessment on the property itself.

But the benefits aren’t isolated among homeowners 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 over 400 participating contractors have found that offering HERO financing gives them a competitive advantage.

“HERO financing has been a huge part of the growth my business has seen over the past few months. After years of having customers make upgrades only when absolutely necessary, I have been pleasantly surprised to see homeowners coming out of the woodwork to make the changes they have long dreamed about,” said Glen Rusche with Synergy Companies, Inc.

Tight budget? Check out EarthTechling’s “5 DIY Home Energy Upgrades Under $100“!

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog