Energy Smart Financing Makes Going Green Affordable
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

BY LISA SCONTRAS

Are you looking for a way to add value to your home, become more environmentally responsible and save money? By installing panels on your roof for a solar water heater or a photovoltaic (PV) system, which converts the sun’s energy into electricity for your home, you may be able to do all three.

According to Derek Wong, Vice President of Retail Credit Products at First Hawaiian Bank, the most common motivation local people have for making their home more energy efficient is the return on investment. These green home renovations appeal to homeowners because the initial cost can be recovered over time in energy savings.

In the past, the initial cost to install a residential solar system was a financial obstacle for some. But now, First Hawaiian Bank is offering a green financing program to help homeowners convert Hawaii’s abundant sunshine into huge savings.

First Hawaiian’s Energy-Smart Program offers financing on the purchase and installation of a solar hot water or photovoltaic panel system. For the financing of solar hot water systems, you can use any contractor on Hawaii Energy’s participating contractor list. For the financing of a photovoltaic system, you may select any licensed contractor with no added mark-ups to the system. Check online at fhb.com or with any conveniently located First Hawaiian branch for details.

“Interest in financing energy improvements has been growing exponentially,” says Wong. “As the cost of energy has gone up, people have been searching alternatives to fix or lower their expenses. A home equity line of credit, like our EnergySmart Program, is an ideal product because the rates are lower than other loans and depending on your tax position, the interest may be tax deductible.”

Hawaii’s year-round sunshine and high electricity costs make it a prime place to take advantage of solar products. Wong says Hawaii’s hot solar market offers other benefits as well.

“In addition to the abundance of sunshine and one of the best climates in the world, there are federal and state tax credits, which make the return on investment high – saving energy and money,” says Wong. “And, in Hawaii, there is a lot of competition in the market, so the prices and the quality of materials and installation are competitive. Lastly, I think we are at a point where there are many satisfied people who are spreading the word about how they put in a PV or a solar hot water system, as well as some who have paid off their system and are generating electricity now without a monthly payment.”

Just last month, solar panels were installed on the roof of the White House, to improve the energy efficiency as well as to encourage Americans to adopt green technology in their own homes. And Hawaii residents can be a part of this movement by taking advantage of the EnergySmart Program.

“Taking an EnergySmart loan is appealing because it is structured so there is no down payment and the monthly loan payments can be similar to what you are already paying for electricity,” Wong says. “Each scenario is different, but for my own example, I am paying the same monthly payment on my PV loan as I was on my electricity bill for four years, afterwards I should not have any payments for the next 15 to 20 years.”

Wong explains each system is customized to each household’s situation. For example, where the home is located, whether the roof is flat or pitched, how much area is available on the roof, whether it faces north or south, how many people live in the home and if there is an air conditioner – will all impact the efficiency of the system and ultimately the savings.

But one thing is sure, the cost of electricity is increasing. And First Hawaiian Bank’s commitment to Hawaii residents with its EnergySmart Program is helping homeowners offset those costs, with long-term benefits to your pocketbook and the planet.

The opinions, statements and views contained in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of First Hawaiian Bank or its management. First Hawaiian Bank does not warrant that the information herein is accurate, complete or current.

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