The Nebraska Energy Quarterly features questions asked about 5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans. Loan forms may be obtained from participating lenders or the Energy Office, or at the agency's web site.

Loans as of June 30, 2001:  18,391 Loans for $140 million

Questions and Answers...
5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans


Can Dollar and Energy Saving Loans finance improvements in public schools?
No.  Under the guidelines, "only legal residents of Nebraska may apply for loans and mortgages.  A legal resident is a Nebraska taxpayer, a Nebraska-chartered corporation, a subdivision of Nebraska government except schools and state government or a person who has maintained a permanent residence and lived in the state for more than six months."  Private schools, categorized as a business or nonprofit, are eligible for a loan of up to $100,000.

I have heard the Energy Office has eliminated loans for Climate Wise partners.  Is this true?
Climate Wise was an effort by the U.S. Department of Energy designed to encourage manufacturers and industries to chart a course for reducing pollution and energy waste in their facilities.  Recently, Climate Wise was replaced with EnergyStarr, a joint endeavor by the energy agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is a broader-based, but similar effort targeting pollution and energy use reductions.  

If a business, institution, or manufacturer becomes a voluntary EnergyStarr partner or already is a Climate Wise partner, the company can borrow up to $150,000 through a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan for making energy efficiency and pollution reduction improvements in their buildings and systems.  The maximum amount of money businesses that are not EnergyStarr partners can borrow is $100,000.

I've heard there are some costs for getting Dollar and Energy Saving Loans.  What are these costs?
The only fees a participating lender may charge are out-of-pocket expenses, a physical inspection fee of up to $50, a loan documentation fee to cover indirect or overhead costs up to $50, and a 2 percent origination fee if the term of the loan is for the maximum length of time -- ten years for home building and system improvements, five years of appliance replacements -- and the simple payback period for projects requiring an audit.

Is the Energy Office still financing new home construction?
The agency is putting new home construction temporarily on hold while new standards are being developed to include upgraded energy efficiency standards, construction waste reduction and incorporation of recycled content materials. 

Through June 2001, the agency has financed 89 new homes with a total project cost of more than $21 million.  Additional homes were conditionally approved for financing before the temporary hold was implemented. 

What must be done to qualify for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan when furnaces fail in the winter or are "red-tagged" as unsafe to operate?
 In situations such as these, the lender needs to provide the Energy Office with an explanation of the emergency furnace problem and the specifics on the new equipment to be installed. As soon as this information is received from the lender, the Energy Office verifies the new equipment meets the requirements for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan, then notifies the lender that the borrower may proceed with the replacement furnace.  However, the lender still needs to submit all the applicable loan paperwork to obtain a commitment of Energy Office funds for the furnace. Replacement equipment must not be installed prior to the lender receiving notification from the Energy Office that the replacement equipment qualifies.  Should the emergency situation arise when the Energy Office is closed, the replacement may be installed, but the lender needs to contact the Energy Office as soon as the Office opens to verify the equipment that was installed meets loan criteria.  Extreme caution should be used by lenders in these cases to make certain that equipment meeting Energy Office standards has been installed and the replacement was a justified emergency -- the equipment was "red-tagged," emitting carbon monoxide or the heat exchanger was cracked -- that could not be postponed until the Office re-opened.

Will the Energy Office finance the purchase of clothes dryers?  It seems like they use more energy than a dishwasher.
The criteria for financing the purchase of certain types of appliances, such as dishwashers are based on a simple premise:  some appliance models are substantially more energy efficient than others and have a probable payback of five years or less. 

In other types of appliances there are few differences in the amount of energy used from model to model.  That is the case with clothes dryers.  The technology in clothes dryers varies little from model to model, so substantial energy savings are not possible.  A second factor is that energy guide labels are not required for clothes dryers and few companies rate their dryers. 

If you are seeking the most energy efficient clothes dryer, select one with moisture sensors, followed by temperature control and, lastly, simple timers.  You can also find more information on this topic under "product information" at 
www.energystar.gov which is a federal government web site that identifies the most energy-efficient appliances, products and materials. 

In addition to clothes dryers, the Energy Office does not consider gas or electric kitchen ranges and microwave ovens as pre-qualified improvements because there are few energy-saving differences among brands and models.  A borrower can demonstrate an appliance is eligible by submitting an energy audit showing the new appliance will save enough in utility costs to recover the cost of the new unit in five years or less.  The Energy Office's Technical Advisor will review the energy audit and accept the calculations if they are deemed to be reasonable.  However, it is still unlikely that clothes dryers, kitchen ranges and microwave ovens will meet this test for the very reasons stated earlier.

Low-interest Dollar  and Energy Saving Loans exist to provide market-based incentives to direct Nebraska consumers to the most energy-efficient products. 

Return to the September 2001 Newsletter