Boynton Beach and Lake Clarke Shores have become the first municipalities in Palm Beach County to make the HERO Program available to local residents. HERO will enable homeowners in the two cities to make energy efficiency or renewable energy improvements and wind-hardening upgrades, and to pay for them at a fixed interest rate over time as a voluntary assessment through their property taxes. The interest on HERO financing payments may have tax benefits, and many property owners who use HERO to finance home improvements see immediate savings on their utility bills.
HERO, which stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, is the nation's leading form of residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. Since HERO launched nearly five years ago, 78,000 homeowners have used it to finance more than $1.8 billion in energy and efficiency improvements. And by stimulating home renovation activity, the HERO Program increases demand for contractor services and boosts the local economy – all at no cost to government budgets.
Boynton Beach and Lake Clarke Shores formally adopted the HERO Program when their elected officials respectively voted to join the Florida Development Finance Corporation's (FDFC) residential PACE Program. The FDFC has initially partnered with Renovate America, the company that administers the HERO Program, to bring the most extensive experience in PACE financing and most enhanced consumer safeguards to make Florida more energy efficient and hurricane-resistant.
"By partnering with the industry-leading PACE provider, we aim to make residential energy and wind-hardening improvements more accessible and more affordable for homeowners in Boynton Beach and Lake Clarke Shores, while enhancing local economic growth," said FDFC Executive Director Bill Spivey.
A New Form of Financing For Home Improvements
The HERO Program addresses a problem conventional financing products have not solved. Each year, one in six homeowners replaces a system in the home that affects energy consumption. Most of the time, they choose a less efficient option based on upfront sticker price, instead of factoring in the total cost of owning and maintaining the product or system over the course of its useful life. HERO only finances efficient solutions, and converts the moment when a homeowner needs to replace or upgrade a failing system into an opportunity to upgrade a community's housing stock.
HERO can finance 100 percent of the home improvement, requiring no upfront cash outlay; HERO interest rates are fixed and competitive with other options; the term of the financing is based on the useful life of the product, up to 25 years, spreading out costs over time; and HERO keeps other existing credit sources available to help meet goals and emergencies. Moreover, interest on HERO payments may be tax-deductible, and the upgrades themselves may increase home values.
Renovate America manages the HERO Program in close partnership with the cities and counties that adopt the financing tool. Because of the nature of the public-private partnership, HERO financing includes additional requirements to safeguard consumers not found in other payment options like credit cards or home equity loans. For example, the HERO Program will only pay a contractor after the homeowner signs off that the job has been completed to his or her satisfaction. Contractors must be in good standing with HERO, and homeowners select from products certified as efficient by local, state and federal government authorities.
The HERO Program is scheduled to launch in Florida early next year. Florida homeowners who want to be notified when HERO becomes available in their area should visit www.heroprogram.com/coming-soon. Contractors interested in learning more about HERO and/or becoming a registered HERO provider should visit www.heroprogram.com/contractors.