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The Best Energy Efficiency Financing Options for California Homeowners


It’s common knowledge that the less electricity you use, the more you save. That’s why energy-efficient appliances have become so widespread. But what about energy efficiency for homeowners who go solar? If you’re generating your own electricity powered by the sun, what difference does it make how much power you use?

Lower Your Power Usage Before Going Solar for Optimal Savings

There are two great reasons to increase your energy efficiency as much as possible, even before going solar. One relates to the size of the rooftop solar system you get: the less power you use/expect to use, the smaller the system you’ll have to install—and the more you’ll save on the initial expense. The other reason is that if you’re like most homeowners, you’ll still buy some electricity from your local utility. Keeping those purchases as small as possible will be another money saver.

Take Advantage of California’s Loan Programs

So energy efficiency is a money-saver. But what if you don’t want to pay cash for energy-efficient improvements? The state of California is so excited about energy efficiency that it is rolling out seven low-cost loan programs to help, all through the California Hub for Energy Efficiency Financing (CHEEF). The relevant program for homeowners is called the Residential Energy Efficiency Loan (REEL) Assistance Program. The program enrolled its first loan in July 2016. The program helps borrowers who want to complete an energy efficiency project on up to four residential property units. Qualifying borrowers must get utility service from an investor-owned utility (IOU) like SCE. Most homeowners who go solar maintain some level of connection to their utility, so don’t worry that adding a rooftop solar system will hurt your chances, as long as you don’t go off-grid.

Here’s the list of Participating REEL lenders so far:

  • California Coast Credit Union
  • Desert Valleys Federal Credit Union
  • Matadors Community Credit Union
  • Valley Oak Credit Union
  • Viewtech Financial Services

These state-backed lenders offer some of the best terms available. Other options include:

PACE Financing

Property-Assessed Clean Energy financing is available in many California counties. This financing method allows homeowners to pay for energy efficiency improvements through their annual property tax bill.

On-Bill Financing

Some IOUs offer no-interest financing for energy efficiency projects that you pay as part of your monthly electric bill. SCE’s on-bill financing page is linked above.

Energy Efficiency Mortgages

This program is just like it sounds: Your house serves as collateral to finance your energy efficiency project.

Remember, loans aren’t the only type of financial incentive or assistance available. There are rebates for some specific types of energy efficiency improvements, like variable-speed pool pumps. And of course there are lots of solar power incentives in Los Angeles. Check your options thoroughly, since every incentive will help increase the ROI on your investment in energy efficiency.

One note of caution: Remember to use licensed contractors for your solar panel installation, because the offerings and quality of the system will affect your ROI. When researching solar panel providers, consider checking your contractor’s credentials prior to hiring.

If you have any questions about financing energy efficiency projects or rooftop solar systems, please contact LA Solar Group. We’re ready with answers.



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