“What Are the Best California Energy Efficiency Incentives?” Ken in Folsom, CA Asks an HVAC Expert

california energy efficiency incentivesOur friend Ken in Folsom, CA has been doing some research into California’s many energy efficiency incentives, and now he has a question. Ken asks:

“One of my neighbors was recently getting new windows put in and I went on over to ask him what the deal was, if he’d won the lottery or what. He told me that he was actually investing in new windows with the help of energy efficiency incentives, which were basically covering the cost of his project, plus letting him pay it back interest-free.

This intrigued me since I could actually use a new window installation myself. It’s been at least two decades since I’ve made that kind of investment in my house up here in Folsom. In fact, before I saw my neighbor having his own window work done, I was already collecting phone numbers for installation companies.

Anyway, I went home and tried to search online for a good energy efficiency incentive that I could benefit from, and there was so much info that I came away with more new questions than answers. So, what I want to know is, what are the best California energy efficiency incentives out there? Thanks in advance!” – Ken in Folsom, CA

First and foremost, Ken, let me tell you that I feel your pain. There are roughly five different energy efficiency incentive financing programs that we work with in our corner of California, and I’ve had to learn as much as I can about all of them. Believe me when I say, they do get a little bit confusing.

Luckily for Ken—and anyone else currently working their way through this maze—I’ve already done my homework and learned about them all. So, that’s what we’re going to be talking about today: the various energy efficiency incentives that homeowners can—and should—use to upgrade their houses.  

The Best California Energy Efficiency Incentives

The best California energy efficiency incentives for our area are PACE, HERO, SMUD, CaliforniaFirst, and Ygrene. It benefits a homeowner to know a little bit about each of them. Here’s a quick list of the key info about each of them:northern california energy efficiency incentives for homeowners

  • PACE: PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) offers loans to make energy upgrades accessible and affordable for homeowners. Keep in mind, though, that PACE loans are linked to the home itself, not to the homeowner. If you decide to sell your home before the loan is paid in full, the new homeowner will need to take responsibility for the loan. You can learn more about the PACE financing program HERE.
  • HERO: The HERO financing program, which stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, is a government-approved loan program to support water and energy efficient upgrades to local homes. Homeowners can get up to 100% of the cost of upgrades covered. Terms for HERO loans can be as long as 25 years. Learn more about the HERO financing program HERE.
  • SMUD: The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) offers rebates and money back opportunities for homeowners who buy energy efficient appliances, like heat pumps, water heaters, smart thermostats, clothes washers, and room air conditioners. To qualify, homeowners have to install appliances on a SMUD-approved list of options. You will want to get help from your local contractor for this. Learn more about SMUD incentives and rebates HERE.
  • CaliforniaFirst (CalFIRST): CalFIRST is a financing program to help with the upfront costs of installing energy efficienct appliances and making home upgrades. What’s unique about CalFIRST is their payment programs are very flexible, typically between 5 and 30 years. If you move before paying off your loan, the outstanding amount can be transferred to your new home, paid via your property tax bill. Learn more about the CaliforniaFIRST financing program HERE.
  • Ygrene: The Ygrene Energy Fund offers 100% of homeowner financing for residential home upgrades that meet set standards of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and in some areas water conservation and storm protection. Application processing only takes 30 minutes so if you’re ready to start up a home upgrade project, Ygrene may be the best choice for you. Learn more about the Ygrene Energy Fund HERE.

How to Research California Energy Efficiency Incentives

Simply put, the best way to research California energy efficiency incentives for someone like Ken who lives in Folsom is to work with a professional HVAC, windows, and plumbing contractor who has experience with them all. That goes for folks who live anywhere else in the Sacramento area, too. Finances are never easy, nor are valuable incentive financing plans, so believe me when I tell you there’s no shame in getting help here.

An experienced contractor can help you pick out the exact plan that’s right for your financial reality and the work that you have in mind for your home. You can 100 percent make sure that you’re getting the right fit for your needs. Then, once you’ve selected a plan, that same contractor can go ahead and get the work started for you, eliminating even more hassle from your busy day-to-day schedule.

I hope that answers Ken’s question. One last thing I should say is that here at Bell Brothers we have a great deal of experience working with every one of these financing options. We’ve been helping folks in Northern California find the right fit since energy efficiency incentives first became an option a few years back. In fact, odds are good that we’ve even helped one of your neighbors benefit from these incentives.

The way I look at this whole thing is simple: there is energy efficiency financing available and so you as a homeowner should know all that you can in case it would benefit you to take advantage of it. After all, when done right, energy efficiency upgrades can lower your utility bills and make them even easier to pay for. You certainly don’t want to miss out on all of that.

At Bell Brothers, our trained HVAC professionals would love to help you make upgrades to your home that are covered by these energy efficiency financing programs, upgrades such as installing insulation in your attic—or even new windows throughout the rest of your house. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.

Wondering how to finance your home upgrades—like new insulation? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.

Image courtesy zhudifeng