As of December 31, 2005: 22,347 loans for $178.3 million
Questions and Answers...
5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

ben franklin
The Nebraska Energy Quarterly features questions asked about 5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans.
Loan forms may be obtained from participating lenders, the Nebraska Energy Office, or the agency's web site by clicking on the “Loan Forms” button above.
Q:
I noticed the Energy Office offers low interest loans for the conversion of conventional vehicles to operate on alternative fuels. What steps are needed for the emissions certifying process for an ethanol vehicle conversion? How much does the testing cost?
A:
emmissions testHopefully, the certification process shouldnít be difficult. Usually larger car dealerships will have gas analyzers that can test your car for emissions. In Lincoln, two of three dealerships contacted had the equipment, although oneís unit was broken and could not test for carbon monoxide.

When you find a dealer who can perform the test, ask about the price of a test. In Colorado, where tests are mandatory, the Colorado Motor Vehicle Department (phone 303-205-5603) estimated the cost at $25.
Q:
Can vinyl siding be financed with an Energy Office loan?
A:
Vinyl siding can be financed with a Dollar and Energy Saving loan, provided the requirements listed on Form 2 Siding are met. The main requirement is that you add a minimum R-10 of insulation to the wall that is to be sided. A portion of the R-10 insulation must be a minimum 1/2 inch insulation board required as a protective cover for the insulation. The walls must also be checked for insulation and filled.

For more information on this, please visit the Energy Office web site, The requirements are also listed on the back of Form 2 Siding.
Q:
Does Nebraska offer any rebates for installing a heat pump? Iíve heard that some utilities offer rebates, but my local utility doesnít. Does the Energy Office offer rebates?
A:
The Energy Office does not offer any rebates. The Energy Office does offer Dollar and Energy Saving Loans for energy efficiency projects such as heat pumps which meet the minimum requirements: 12 Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER, & 7.8 Heating Seasonal Performance Factor, or HSPF; for air source heat pumps, 3.0 Coefficient Performance, or COP, & 13 Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER, for ground source heat pumps. You can apply for through local participating Nebraska lenders.

Even though your local electric utility may not offer rebates, some wholesale electric providers such as Omaha Public Power District may offer rebates if you are in their area. Call 402-636-3753 or 1-800-648-2658 to find out if you qualify.
Q:
I have a 37 year-old furnace and plan to replace it with a new electric furnace and possibly a heat pump. Does the furnace alone or furnace in combination with a heat pump qualify for an energy loan? I could only find gas furnaces listed on loan forms. If an electric furnace doesn't qualify, I would like to know why. The new electric unit is much more efficient than my current gas furnace. Our local electricity costs are cheaper than the national average and natural gas costs are expected to increase.
A:
A heat pump with electric backup would qualify for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan, provided the heat pump has efficiencies of HSPF of 7.8 or greater and SEER of 12 or greater.
heatpump
A stand-alone electric furnace does not qualify. While an electric furnace is close to 100% efficient, this does not take into account the efficiency of bringing the electricity to your home.  The efficiency of bringing electricity to your home is about 30%, depending on the type of generation. For comparison, natural gas is used in the following example. Using propane would be similar to natural gas, with propane having a Btu (British Thermal Unit) content of 95,000 Btus per gallon, similar to a therm or ccf of natural gas having 100,000 Btus.

Comparing natural gas to electricity: There are roughly 100,000 Btus in a ccf or therm of natural gas, and 3,412 Btus in a kilowatt-hour (KWh). If a person divides a therm or ccf by a kWh, it takes 29.31 kWh to equal a therm's worth of Btus. To compare the heat delivered to your home, you also need to multiply 29.31 by the efficiency of the gas furnace. A gas furnace efficiency of 92% is common these days (0.92). Thus, it takes about 27 kWh of electric heat to equal a therm of natural gas heat (29.31 times 0.92).

To analyze the energy costs: If a dollar is paid for a therm of natural gas, and that dollar is divided by the 27 kWh of electricity to get an equal amount of electric heat, 3.7 cents per kWh would be needed to break even.

In some communities, $1.00 per therm and $0.037 per kWh may be near to reality, but this does not take into account the increase in actual energy used if electricity is used to heat the home as opposed to using natural gas or propane. With a delivered efficiency of 30% for electricity, a person is actually using three times as much energy as a 92% gas furnace (92% divided by 30%).

The reason a heat pump with electric back-up can be financed with a loan is because the heat pump brings the consumerís actual energy use of electricity near that of natural gas. The heating efficiency rate for an air source heat pump, called a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), takes into account the amount of backup heat required. The HSPF is measured in Btu/watt-hour units. If you divide the HSPF by the conversion factor 3.412 Btu/watt-hours, you would have a number similar to the efficiency of a gas furnace. An air source heat pump with a 7.8 HSPF would create 2.29 times more heat energy than the amount of energy it used in a season (7.8 divided by 3.412). The total amount of energy used by the consumer from the electric utility is close to the same amount if the consumer used a gas furnace.

The purpose of the Dollar and Energy Saving loan program is to reduce the total amount of energy used by Nebraskans as well as reduce the total amount spent on energy.
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