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Low-interest loan program helps homeowners finance clean energy upgrades » Yale Climate Connections

People can cut back on carbon pollution and save money on energy by installing solar or retrofitting their homes to improve energy efficiency.

But many people need loans to cover the upfront cost of these investments.

And Kerry O’Neill of the nonprofit investment fund Inclusive Prosperity Capital says lenders often lack experience in financing this kind of work.

“While they like consumer lending — they know how to do that all day long, that’s their business — they don’t understand, like, what are these technologies?” she says. “What’s a good heat pump? What’s a good boiler? What’s a good furnace? Who are the contractors? Are they doing good work? So they don’t understand the energy space … and when they don’t understand, that makes them nervous and that says, hmm, I’m not going to get involved.”

So her group developed the Smart-E Loan Program — a low-interest loan program for home energy projects.

“That might mean putting in heat pumps for electrification, it could mean solar, it could mean efficiency, EV charging,” O’Neill says.

Her group partners with credit unions and community banks to offer the loans. They provide technical expertise and maintain a network of vetted contractors.

That way, lenders can feel more prepared to finance home energy projects — and more people can access the environmental and financial benefits of clean energy.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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