Early this morning, as I shoveled the overnight delivery from Winter Storm Rex, I find myself reflecting on all the reasons I detest winter – and they are many.

Getting out of a nice warm bed earlier to dig my car out from the snow, then chiseling off all the ice that accumulated overnight just so I can join the long parade of horrible drivers ranks pretty high on that list. But if I had to pick my personal Winter Enemy No. 1, it’s gotta be those high utility bills.

If ever there was a good enough reason to invest in some eco-friendly alternatives to generating energy for my house, the wintertime gas bill is it. And while “Going Green” with such sustainable energy upgrades like fuel cells, solar panels or wind turbines isn’t a novel concept, few have made the investment because, let’s face it, the cost is usually more than the average American homeowner can handle.

Fortunately, AmeriFirst Home Mortgage has rolled out the PowerSaver Grant. It’s an FHA-approved grant that allows AmeriFirst to cover some closing costs when a buyer makes specific eco-friendly home improvements with the FHA 203k loan. But what does that mean?

For starters, it means that homeowners looking to make those green improvements can do so without having to drop a bucket load of money upfront to pay for them. Here’s how it works:

Suppose you are looking to renovate the house you’re in, or make renovations to a home you want to buy. You first need to apply for the FHA 203k loan.  I have talked about this loan before here in this blog. You can use this loan to either a buy a home and fix it up, or refinance your current home and remodel. Of all the improvements you plan on making, at least $3,500 worth need to be specific improvements that are eligible for the PowerSaver Grant. Those improvements include:

  • Energy Star furnace
  • Energy Star air-conditioner
  • Energy Star water heater
  • Duct sealing
  • Approved insulation
  • Approved window replacement
  • Storm window/door installation
  • Energy Star specified roof repair/replacement
  • Ground source heat pump
  • Sustainable energy upgrades, such as fuel cells, solar panels, or wind turbines

Meeting these requirements may qualify you for about $2,000 in closing costs to be paid by AmeriFirst Home Mortgage via the PowerSaver Grant. What’s more, since you are using the 203k loan to finance the upgrades, you’ll be paying a lower interest rate.  And since the loan is amortized over a traditional mortgage term, the expense is cheaper than typical consumer loans…certainly don’t put it all on plastic (yikes!).

Even if you are not ready to construct a wind turbine in your backyard, experts say simple things can have a big impact. Upgrade your insulation, seal your ducts to ensure the heat from your furnace gets into your living space without leaks, and really consider that Energy Star furnace. Depending on your current model, an Energy Star furnace could save anywhere from 25% to 40% on your energy costs.

If you have any questions about the PowerSaver Grant or the FHA 203k loan, don’t hesitate to email me or contact my office. My team is more than happy to sit down with you and help you figure out the best way to take advantage of this very beneficial federal grant.