HERO Program offered for energy-saving upgrades

Devlin and Raymond Fillmore stand in front of the new solar electric system they financed through WRCOG's HERO program. With them is 360 Solar Rep Mark Harrell, who told them about the program.

According to the latest figures from Western Riverside Council of Governments' HERO Program, Canyon Lake homeowners have been approved for over $1.9 million in financing for energy efficient projects in the home since the HERO Program started just over a year ago.

Senior Account Manager Jessica Wallenfels says, "To date, residents have received over $429,000 in financing to compete projects that save them money and make their homes more energy efficient at no upfront cost, with more activity to come, judging from the approvals total. 

The HERO Program is offered through a partnership between Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) and Renovate America, Inc. The Program provides HERO Financing for permanently affixed energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy products. HERO Financing is repaid through an assessment on one's property tax bill over 5 to 20 years, based on the useful life of the products. Upon sale of the property, the balance generally stays with the property.

"Because of the extreme heat in the summer of 2012, and because their home has a spa, the Fillmores’ electric bill in August alone was $400 ? much more than the couple was comfortable spending," says Wallenfels. "They decided to install a solar electric system to offset some of their electricity usage . . . After the first full month with their new solar electric system, the couple’s bill went down by more than $100. They are looking forward to even smaller electric bills in the future, and are interested in upgrading to any other energy-efficient products that can help them save money, particularly a tankless water heater."

According to the WRCOG HERO website, www.beaRiversideHERO.com, the program can be used by residential homeowners and small, medium and large commercial businesses. Eligible products include items that help with insulation, energy efficiency, water efficiency, pool equipment, solar panels, heating and air conditioning, water heating, windows, skylights and doors.

The HERO Program has been the recipient of numerous regional and statewide awards, including most recently receiving the California U.S. Green Building Council’s recognition for “Best Residential Partnership” on its Top 10 list of local green building programs.

To be eligible for HERO financing, homeowners must meet the minimum criteria requirements. For residential properties, one must be the registered owner, current on property taxes for the prior 12 months, show proof that property taxes for the property have not been paid late more than once during the prior three years, or since purchased if owned for less than three years. There must be no late payments on property debt for the past 12 months (through funding), no liens on the property, no bankruptcy in the past seven years and the property cannot currently be an asset in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Any work that owners request in the application must include eligible products that do not exceed 10 percent of the property's market value, and mortgage-related debt on the property may not exceed 90 percent of the property value.

Manufactured and mobile homes must be attached to the property, own the underlying land, and pay real property taxes (not DMV fees). Condominiums may be eligible depending on the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R's) of the complex as well as the physical design of the unit. Condominium owners who apply for HERO financing will need to obtain written authorization from the condominium management stating that the property owner is allowed to install the proposed eligible products.

Applications can be completed online, by calling in, or by submitting a hard copy. Most applications can be approved instantly or the same business day. Applications can be found at www.beaRiversideHERO.com. To apply by phone, call 877-747-4889. Hardcopy applications can be sent to The WRCOG HERO program, 4080 Lemon Street, 3rd floor, MS 1032, Riverside, CA, 92501-3609.