This month, Renovate America marks an important milestone: 100,000 American homes have now used our innovative financing option, HERO, to make energy and efficiency improvements. It’s a cause for celebration, and an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve learned.
The idea behind HERO is simple: to help homeowners invest in their homes to save energy or water, or to make their most valuable investment — their home — safer and more resilient to extreme weather. It’s a form of financing called PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy, and it gives homeowners access to private capital to make improvements that advance public-policy objectives, like expanding access to clean-energy technologies, improving neighborhoods and stimulating growth.
HERO is offered in partnership with local governments, and homeowners who use it pay back their financing through an additional line item on their property taxes. Eligibility is primarily based on equity in the home and the homeowner’s tax and mortgage payment history.
Home improvement needed improving. The first thing we learned when we launched HERO just over five years ago is that people needed more than financing. They needed peace of mind, and better control of the process as they made an investment in their homes to save energy or water.
Our first step to empower homeowners was to guarantee contractors wouldn’t be paid until the homeowner signed off that the project was done to their satisfaction. Next, we set up a daily check on contractor licenses and offered investigative and dispute resolution support. And eventually, we required all customers to speak by phone with our staff to make sure they understood the terms of their financing before they signed their documents. Seniors 65 and older get extra care.
Read more (The Energy Collective)