Our family’s home was built in 1971 and with that comes large bedrooms, a vaulted living room ceiling, ranch-style architecture, gold fixtures, wood paneling and dark cabinets, old appliances and single-pane windows. It’s been a little over three years since we moved in and started making our house our home and we’ve been able to replace the gold fixtures and paint over the wood paneling and dark cabinets and we’re replacing the appliances one at a time as well. Windows however, are a larger expense – an investment we know we’ll rapidly see (and feel) returns on, but also one that’s not quite in the budget in a lump sum right now.
We’ve known we wanted to replace the windows and doors since we bought the house, and now that some of the things that we felt were more pressing have been dealt with, we’d started to look into the cost of windows and doors. While doing my research, I came across something online that I wasn’t familiar with, and that I’m guessing many others aren’t either. The HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) Financing Program is something that is offered in select communities, and allows homeowners to receive 100% financing for home improvements that contribute towards great home efficiency and/or the use of renewable energy. I searched the list of eligible communities and was pleased to discover that Fresno County homeowners are eligible to participate.
HERO financing offers low, fixed rate interest and flexible payments – you can pay for your improvements over the course of 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. Qualification comes not from your credit score or income level, but your home’s value and staying current on mortgage and property tax payments, so many people who are paying for their home on time, and have a mortgage debt of no more that 90% of the home’s value will qualify. With the current market, many of our homes have begun to rise in value, making more families eligible to participate. There are over 900,000 products that are eligible for HERO financing, so there’s a lot to consider when it comes to deciding what is most important for your home. Tankless water heaters, dual-pane windows, new and efficient HVAC units and low-flow plumbing are just a few examples of things you can use the HERO program to install.
Applying for the program is easy and takes about 2 minutes online. You’ll get an instant decision including the amount you’re qualified for, and a HERO rep will follow up within the day or so to help you plan your next steps. Since the loan is based on home value, the payments you make are actually to the County through your property taxes, and that additional amount usually doesn’t show up until the following tax year. If you home is sold during the term of the loan, the payments remain with the property.
We chose to apply for the program, and were approved – and our next step was to contact approved HERO window providers for quotes. Our HERO rep recommended getting at least three quotes, which I’m really glad we did – as the prices ranged from nearly 16k to 9k, and the products and installation guarantees were comparable. We are just a week away from our install of new windows and sliding doors and I can’t wait!
I’m sharing the HERO program with you here, because I have a feeling many local homeowners could really benefit, and very few people I’ve talked to are familiar with the opportunity. I’m not affiliated with HERO in any way, just a customer going through the process – and excited that I’ll be able to start saving more on energy and stop experiencing cold air pockets in my house soon, without having to save all $10k first. (Our hope is to pay off our loan early, and there’s no pre-payment penalty.) I hope my writing about this opportunity helps some of my fellow Fresno County residents make their home more efficient soon, too!