There’s a lot of talk these days about saving money off utility bills by making simple, energy-efficient improvements around your home and changing the way you do certain things. Upgrading to CFL light bulbs or setting back your thermostat when you’re not home can be good first steps to cut energy costs, but some energy efficiency improvements, such as upgrading to an energy-efficient furnace or installing high-efficiency windows, can carry significant price tags.
While some expensive improvements may be worth it in the long run, the upfront costs might be too high for many Illinois residents. But since the benefits of energy efficiency include everything from lower utility bills to less pollution to less strain on the electric grid, it’s important that financing be available for homeowners who need it. To help Illinois homeowners, Energy Impact Illinois (EI2), an organization led by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), has partnered with several local banks and credit unions to make sure homeowners can get low-interest energy efficiency loans.
Which Energy Efficiency Improvements Qualify?
There are two main categories of energy efficiency improvements that qualify for EI2’s low-interest loan program:
Boiler or furnace with additional items
Illinois homeowners who upgrade their boilers or furnaces are eligible for low-interest energy efficiency loans. Homeowners are also eligible for low-interest loans to finance water heaters, programmable thermostats, central air conditioners and other ENERGY STAR appliances and equipment as long as the upgrades are done in conjunction with boiler or furnace upgrades. Improvements must be installed by participating heating and cooling contractors.
Whole home improvements
Illinois homeowners are also eligible for low-interest energy efficiency loans to cover whole home improvements, which are considered to be any recommendation by a certified energy auditor that results in an estimated comprehensive energy savings of 15 percent or more. Improvements must be installed by participating energy upgrade contractors.
Who Are the Participating Lenders and What Are the Loan Terms?
EI2 has partnered with Green Choice Bank, Members Alliance Credit Union and North Side Community Credit Union to offer the low-interest energy efficiency loans. All of the institutions offer unsecured loans with minimal paperwork and quick approvals. Each institution has its own loan terms. In some cases, the institutions will offer secured loans for amounts exceeding their stated maximums for unsecured loans.
Green Choice Bank serves homeowners in the seven county Chicago region. Loan amounts range from $2,500 to $10,000 with a maximum repayment term of 7 years. Home equity loans are available for more expensive energy efficiency projects.
For more information, call 773.799.9400 or visit www.greenchoicebank.com.
Members Alliance Credit Union offers low-interest energy efficiency loans to homeowners who live or work in the City of Rockford. The minimum loan amount is $500. The maximum loan amount is subject to the borrower’s ability to repay. The maximum repayment term is 5 years. Eligible members must be existing or new Members Alliance Credit Union members that meet certain income and financial requirements.
For more information, call Pat Smith at 815.226.3278 or visit www.membersalliance.org.
North Side Community Federal Credit Union offers low-interest energy efficiency loans to existing or new members who live, work or worship in the Chicago neighborhoods of Uptown, Edgewater, Lakeview or Rogers Park. Loans are offered up to $6,500 with a maximum repayment term of 5 years. Eligible members must meet certain income and financial requirements.
For more information, call Jennifer Sierecki at 773.769.5800, extension 227, or visit www.northsidecommunityfcu.org.
For More Information
For basic loan details or for information on the EI2 low-interest energy efficiency loan program, call EI2 at 855.9.IMPACT (855.946.7228).
EI2’s list of participating heating and cooling contractors.
EI2’s list of participating whole home contractors.
Energy Impact Illinois, “Energy Impact Low Interest Loans.”