Michigan homeowners with drafty, cold, old homes, high energy bills and little extra cash can now invest in energy efficient home improvements, thanks to the new Michigan Saves Home Energy Loan Program.

Michigan Saves helps eliminate the upfront costs of making your home energy efficient by providing loans to homeowners who might not have access to traditional financing or credit cards. The loans have more flexible qualifying standards and longer term options for larger amounts, to drive down the monthly payment.

“With energy costs rising and the economy still stumbling, there’s never been a better time for Michigan homeowners to invest in energy efficiency,” said Jeff Williams, program director of Michigan Saves. “Energy efficiency is always a smart investment because the improvements pay for themselves and instantly add value to your home. Through Michigan Saves, even cash-strapped homeowners can access these improvements through loans that keep monthly payments low.” 

Michigan Saves is a nonprofit working to make energy efficiency easy and affordable for Michigan families. Homeowners can start by working with a Michigan Saves authorized contractor — screened for licensing, insurance and certification — to help them decide what energy efficiency improvements they need and walk them through the loan process.

The loan process is easy. Homeowners can simply apply over the phone or online, and get a response in minutes during the initial consultation. Homeowners can find a local Michigan Saves contractor by visiting www.MichiganSaves.org

Homeowners with credit scores of at least 680 – down to 640 in some counties – are eligible. Projects must be completed on a single-family home that is the owner’s primary residence. Some additional criteria may apply.

Once approved, homeowners can choose to have a comprehensive review of their home to determine which energy efficiency measures would save them the most money. If they already know what they need, homeowners can work directly with the contractor to get the work done, without having a home assessment.

Qualifying purchases include weatherization, furnace and water heater upgrades, and windows and doors — improvements aimed at saving electricity, propane, heating oil or natural gas.

Contractors say Michigan Saves provides a vital purpose in today’s economy.

“Since property values have fallen and home equity lines of credit are harder to get, Michigan Saves provides a great option for people,” said Bill Krestakos, of Schaafsma Heating and Cooling in Grand Rapids.

Participating lenders offer a Michigan Saves personal loan for amounts between $1,000 and $12,500, at a fixed annual percentage rate no higher than 7 percent. Loan terms range from 12 to 120 months. Terms are one year for every $1,000 for loans up to $4,999. For loans $5,000 and higher, homeowners can pay over 120 months.

Monthly loan payments are low.  For example, homeowners could pay $58 a month for a $5,000 project if they choose to pay it back over 10 years.  Or, homeowners can do $12,500 worth of work, with monthly payments of $248 paid back over 5 years.  There’s no prepayment penalty, so homeowners are free to pay the loan off early if they choose.

The program is available in the following counties and is expected to be expanded next year: Allegan, Barry, Calhoun, Clare, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Gladwin, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Monroe, Montcalm, Muskegon, Oakland, Osceola, Ottawa,  Roscommon, Saginaw, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Van Buren, Washtenaw and Wayne.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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