Owners of nearly half a million homes across Palm Beach County now have access to an innovative form of financing called Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO), which empowers them to make residential energy, efficiency and wind-resistance improvements, paying for the upgrades over time through a voluntary additional assessment on their property tax bill.
Eligible improvements include solar panels, energy-efficient HVAC systems, roofing and window upgrades, roof-to-wall connections, storm shutters, and other products that can protect against wind damage and meet or exceed Florida Building Code requirements.
HERO, a public-private partnership between the Florida Development Finance Corporation (FDFC) and Renovate America, is the nation’s largest Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, financing program. The launch of HERO throughout most of Palm Beach County is expected to bring multiple benefits to the community and to individual homeowners.
With the availability of HERO financing, local contractors should see greater demand for home energy and resiliency projects, providing a boost to small businesses. That in turn will create new jobs in the construction and installation sector. For homeowners, the products eligible for PACE financing can lower utility bills and insurance premiums, while making homes safer and more comfortable.
HERO is now available to homeowners in unincorporated parts of Palm Beach County as well as dozens of cities and towns, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Jupiter, Lake Clarke Shores, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach and Wellington.
“PACE financing programs are an effective tool for homeowners to make smart energy improvements to their residences,” said Natalie Schneider, climate change and sustainability coordinator for Palm Beach County. “And in Florida, PACE can also be used to finance wind-resistant upgrades to help homes withstand the brunt of hurricanes.”
HERO financing offers fixed interest rates ranging from 3.49 percent to 7.99 percent. In addition to being the lowest interest rates in the PACE industry today, these can be competitive with home equity loans and are typically lower than credit cards. HERO also comes with the highest level of consumer protection in the PACE industry, including safeguards like live telephone calls to confirm financing terms with homeowners and a guarantee that contractors don’t get paid until homeowners certify that a project is done to their satisfaction.
“With HERO, communities across Florida are giving homeowners access to the lowest interest rates and strongest protections in the PACE industry today,” said Ari Matusiak, executive vice president of market development at Renovate America. “Floridians not only have a new way to go solar, protect their families from storms or replace a broken HVAC in the middle of the summer, they are also getting a public-private partnership that is helping to improve the entire home improvement industry.”
HERO funds up to 100 percent of the home improvement, while the term of the financing is based on the useful life of the product, up to 25 years, spreading out the cost over time. The interest on the financing may be tax-deductible, and the HERO assessment may be able to transfer to a new owner if the home is sold. The improvements eligible for PACE financing like HERO may also improve the value of a home.
“Floridians are looking for ways to save energy and protect their homes, but many lack access to affordable financing to make the improvements they need to get there,” said Bill Spivey, executive director of the Florida Development Finance Corporation. “PACE is a financing option that empowers homeowners to invest in hurricane-resiliency, energy-efficiency and sustainability improvements to their properties.”
Homeowners interested in applying for HERO financing can learn more at www.renovateamerica.com. Contractors interested in offering HERO financing can register for the program at https://register.renovateamerica.com.