Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

State revives energy efficiency loans for homeowners

Lizzie Rottweil stands outside her house in South Philadelphia, where energy efficiency improvements helped reduce her winter energy bills by about $40 a month.

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Lizzie Rothweil stands outside her house in South Philadelphia, where energy efficiency improvements helped reduce her winter energy bills by about $40 a month.

Pennsylvania has revived a program that helps homeowners secure low interest loans to make energy efficiency improvements. KeystoneHELP is a public private partnership between the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, Renew Financial, and the nonprofit Energy Programs Consortium. Through the program, Pennsylvania homeowners can get up to $20,000 to make home improvements including more efficient HVAC equipment, water heaters, air conditioning, roofing, insulation and windows.

Philadelphia architect Lizzie Rothwell says she and her husband used the energy efficiency loan to install new roof insulation and replace the duct work in their 2-bedroom South Philly home. She says this reduced their winter energy bills by $40 a month.

“We talk about the energy use of our cars but I don’t think people think about their homes that much and its really important,” she said. “It’s a huge huge percentage [of total energy use].”

Rothwell works designing energy efficiency housing for low income residents. She says it’s a pretty hard sell to get private customers interested in energy efficiency. But she says with climate change, more homeowners should be thinking about “future-proofing” their homes from hotter temperatures, and stronger storms. Rothwell made sure she purchased a house far enough away from potential flooding.

Speaking outside of Rothwell’s two-bedroom home, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley called the program a national model for government that works.

“Creativity, partnering, co-investing and working with the private financial sector to expand money-saving air and water quality-improving investments for Pennsylvania families is a big deal,” he said.

The program was originally created in 2006, but was mothballed in 2014 due to a lack of funding.

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