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Energy-Efficient Mortgages and Financing

The following is the information on energy-efficient financing programs, including mortgages, home improvement loans, refinancing, and home energy ratings.

• Financing an Energy-Efficient Home

You can benefit from energy-efficient financing whether you're buying, selling, refinancing, or remodeling a home. If you're looking to buy an energy-efficient home, you can qualify for a better, more comfortable home because with lower utility costs, you can afford a slightly larger mortgage payment. You can also obtain financing to make energy-efficient improvements to an older home before moving in or to your existing home. If you put your home on the market, you can use its energy efficiency as an attractive selling point.

Energy-Efficient Financing Program

You can apply for energy-efficient financing through a government-insured or conventional loan program. Some states even have programs for their residents, so it's a good idea to contact your state energy office to find out if your state does.

There are two types of energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs): one for a new home and one for an existing home. With an EEM, you can purchase or refinance a home that is already energy efficient, or you can purchase or refinance a home that will become energy efficient after energy-saving improvements are made. Most energy-efficient financing programs offer both types of EEMs, as well as home-improvement loans for making energy-efficiency upgrades to your existing home.

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• U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Energy-Efficient Mortgage Program

Federal Housing Administration’s Energy Efficient Mortgage program (EEM) helps homebuyers or homeowners save money on utility bills by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy efficiency features to new or existing housing as part of their FHA insured home purchase or refinancing mortgage.

Purpose of Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

EEMs recognize that reduced utility expenses can permit a homeowner to pay a higher mortgage to cover the cost of the energy improvements on top of the approved mortgage. FHA EEMs provide mortgage insurance for a person to purchase or refinance a principal residence and incorporate the cost of energy efficient improvements into the mortgage. The borrower does not have to qualify for the additional money and does not make a downpayment on it. The mortgage loan is funded by a lending institution, such as a mortgage company, bank, or savings and loan association, and the mortgage is insured by HUD. FHA insures loans. FHA does not provide loans.

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• Energy Ratings and Mortgages

A home energy rating involves an analysis of a home's construction plans and onsite inspections. Based on the home's plans, the Home Energy Rater uses an energy efficiency software package to perform an energy analysis of the home's design. This analysis yields a projected, pre-construction HERS Index.

The HERS Index is a scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) in which a home built to the specifications of the HERS Reference Home (based on the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code) scores a HERS Index of 100, while a net zero energy home scores a HERS Index of 0. The lower a home's score, the more energy efficient it is in comparison to the HERS Reference Home.

Energy efficient homes may qualify for mortgages that take into account a home's efficiency. Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) provides information on home energy rating systems, energy efficient mortgages, and finding certified energy raters and lenders who know how to process energy efficiency mortgages.

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• Refinancing for Energy-Efficiency Improvements

Making smart choices helps consumers keep money in their pockets and save energy. Learn more about how you can save energy and money in the four areas you live your life — at home, at school, at work and on the go — at the Alliance’s consumer website.

• Rebates for ENERGY STAR® Appliances

You may have been eligible to receive rebates from your state or territory for the purchase of new ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. These rebates were funded with $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Under this program, eligible consumers could receive rebates to purchase new energy-efficient appliances when they replaced used appliances.

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Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

If you purchase an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for your home, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit. Below is an overview of the federal tax credits for energy efficiency that are currently available.

While some energy efficiency tax credits are available through 2011, others are available through 2016 as noted below. In addition, tax credits were available in 2009 and 2010 which can still be claimed on your 2010 taxes. Learn more about the tax credits that expired at the end of 2010.

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Special Offers and Rebates from ENERGY STAR Partners

To encourage customers to buy energy efficient products, ENERGY STAR partners occasionally sponsor special offers, such as sales tax exemptions or credits, or rebates on qualified products. Partners also occasionally sponsor recycling incentives for the proper disposal of old products.

How New Homes Earn the ENERGY STAR

To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), making them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes. Homes achieve this level of performance through a combination of energy–efficient improvements, including,

  • Effective Insulation Systems
  • High–Performance Windows
  • Tight Construction and Ducts
  • Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment
  • ENERGY STAR Qualified Lighting and Appliances

To ensure that a home meets ENERGY STAR guidelines, third–party verification by a certified Home Energy Rater (or equivalent) is required. This Rater works closely with the builder throughout the construction process to help determine the needed energy–saving equipment and construction techniques and conduct required on–site diagnostic testing and inspections to document that the home is eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR label.

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Features & Benefits of ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes

To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes.

ENERGY STAR qualified homes can include a variety of 'tried-and-true' energy-efficient features that contribute to improved home quality and homeowner comfort, and to lower energy demand and reduced air pollution:

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Find ENERGY STAR Products

1. ENERGY STAR® Dishwasher

Description:
ENERGY STAR® dishwashers use water and energy more efficiently.

Application:
Select ENERGY STAR® dishwashers. These dishwashers use an internal water heater to boost temperatures inside the dishwasher. For this reason, water heaters can be turned down to 120 degrees, saving water heating costs.

Benefit:
Water-efficient dishwashers are also energy-efficient because most energy consumed by dishwashers is used to heat water.

2. Horizontal Axis Washing Machine

Description:
Horizontal axis machines load from the front, spinning clothes in and out of the water to tumble them clean.

Application:
Select ENERGY STAR® horizontal axis washing machines.

Benefit:
Horizontal axis machines save resources by using less water and energy. They use up to 40% less water and 50% less energy than conventional top loading washers, translating into lower energy and water bills for the resident. Manufacturers claim that there is less wear and tear on clothes compared to the traditional agitator (top loading) machines.

3. Energy-Efficient Refrigerator

Description:
Refrigerators and freezers are among the largest users of electricity in most homes. They can account for up to 25% of household energy use. New appliances are much more energy-efficient.

Application:
Select ENERGY STAR® rated refrigerators.

Benefit:
ENERGY STAR® refrigerators can save over 10% of the total annual electrical bill. Check with your local utility company for rebate programs.

4. Install Built-In Recycling Center

Description:
Built-in recycling centers provide bins for separated recyclables and food waste.

Application:
Recycling bins can be built into kitchen cabinets, as well as standalone units in the garage.

Benefit:
A built it recycling center keeps materials separated and free from contamination, making it easy and convenient to recycle.

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