Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Keystone State Helps With HELP: Three Things To Know About HELP Loans

English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH.
English: Series of air conditioners at UNC-CH. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Over the last decade the environment has become an increasingly important political topic, and politicians are doing everything they can to show that they care about the fate of the environment and that they care about environmental policy. In Pennsylvania one of the ways that the state is show a commitment to environmental issues is through the HELP (Home Energy Loan Program) program. Through this program, homeowners can secure low cost loans that will help them upgrade their homes to greater energy efficiency, and save money on their utility bills. Before applying for HELP, there are three things you need to know.

Who is eligible?

The first question that you need to be concerned with is whether or not you are even eligible for the HELP loan. Homeowners are eligible for the HELP loans if they need the money to make an energy efficient improvement to their home. These loans are applied for just like a traditional loan, so your income level and debt will greatly affect your ability to get the loan. The loans are competitive, so if you have poor credit, you will probably not qualify for the loan, but it never hurts to put in an application.

What kinds of things qualify?

Now that you have determined your eligibility as a homeowner, it is time to think about what improvements you want to make and whether or not those improvements qualify. Home systems that are rated Energy Star by the Federal government can qualify for the HELP program. These systems include things like air conditioning, heating and anything that can make those systems more effective. You can get a HELP loan to install solar panels and you can get a loan to upgrade the insulation to the home. You can check with the HELP office or with your contractor to make sure that all of the improvements that you want to make are covered under the program so that you will not be blindsided when the work is done. Larger projects, such as whole house upgrades and geothermal units, qualify for additional funding and have slightly different terms than other HELP loans. For more information you need to discuss the program with your contractor.

What is the process like?

The actual process of applying is not very difficult, and you should know in a matter of days whether or not you qualify. You can visit www.keystonehelp.com and follow their links to the online application and you can get the application in the works. Because of the number of people who are applying to the program, and the limited funds that are available, it is advisable to get your application in well before you want the work to begin. This will give you plenty of time to find other funding sources if the HELP loan does not go through, and it will give you some time to plan for the improvements if you do qualify.

The Keystone HELP loans are a great way to aid the people of Pennsylvania in their desire to become more environmentally conscious. With these loans people can make the upgrades that they need to their home without the high costs usually associated with taking out a home improvement loan.

I am Amanda Sullivan, and I wrote this article to talk about the eligibility for the Keystone HELP program. I have worked in the HELP office for several months, but I still run into people every day who never knew the program existed, yet who need an upgrade to the air conditioning Lancaster PA homes currently have. I try to point them in the direction of contractors like Vertex Mechanical (www.vertex-mechanical.com) because I know that they are on the approved contractor list and I advise people to discuss their home improvement dreams with a contractor to find out if they qualify for the loan.

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