Loans and Rebates for Energy Efficiency in Nebraska

Saving Money and Energy in the Cornhusker State

Nebraskans who are interested in saving money and energy by making energy efficiency improvements in their homes, businesses, or on their farm or ranch can take advantage of a state-wide loan program sponsored by the Nebraska Energy Office to finance the cost. If you are a customer of the Omaha Public Power District, you can receive a rebate and a special lower electric rate when you install a heat pump.

Nebraska Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Through the Nebraska Dollar and Energy Saving Loan program, all Nebraska residents are eligible for low-interest loans to finance the cost of energy efficiency improvements. You can take out a loan to pay for high efficiency heating and cooling equipment such as a forced air gas furnace, a steam or hot water boiler, a combination water and space heater, a radiant heating system, a central air conditioner, air source heat pump, a ground water or ground coupled heat pump, a packaged terminal heat pump or air conditioner, and water heating equipment.

You can also request a loan to pay for weatherization work such as upgrading insulation, caulking and weather stripping, installing storm windows and doors, installing reflective window film, and replacing skylights; whole house fans, heat or energy recovery ventilators, and outdoor combustion air intake ducts; and programmable thermostats and other energy usage controls.

Loans can be taken out to purchase Energy Star® appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers, room air conditioners, room heat pumps, and dehumidifiers; home electronics and office equipment; and compact fluorescent light fixtures.

You can borrow up to a total of $35,000 for a single-family home and $75,000 for a multi-family building. Nebraska businesses can borrow up to $100,000, and farms and ranches up to $75,000. The annual interest rate is 5% or less, and the repayment period is up to 10 years, or five years for appliances.

To obtain a loan you should first complete the application form. There are separate application forms for each type of energy improvement, and you can download them from the Nebraska Energy Office website at www.neo.ne.gov under Dollar and Energy Saving Loans. The individual forms also indicate the equipment and performance requirements applicable to each type of improvement.

You should get bids or quotes for the energy efficient equipment or the improvement work you want to have done in your home. But you must not proceed with the purchase or the work until your receive approval of your application from the Nebraska Energy Office. If you start the work before obtaining approval, you may lose your eligibility for the loan. If you plan to do the work yourself, you should get a quote for materials and equipment, but you cannot include the value of your labor in the amount of the loan you are requesting.

Once you have completed the application, you should present it, along with the bid or quote you plan to accept, to a bank, credit union, or other financial institution in Nebraska. If your financial institution does not participate in the Dollar and Energy Saving Loans program, you can contact the Nebraska Energy office to find a lender in your area. The lender will notify you when the loan is approved and you can proceed with the purchase or work. You should complete all the work within five months after the loan is approved.

Omaha Public Power District heat pump rebates

Through its Residential Energy Conservation Program, the Omaha Public Power District offers credit rebates to customers who purchase and install a new high-efficiency heat pump. If you replace your existing standard air conditioner with a heat pump and use natural gas or propane for supplemental heating, you are also eligible for a credit rebate. If your system is all electric and you replace your standard air conditioning unit with a heat pump, you qualify for lower electric rates during the winter, but not a refund.

The rebate for a heat pump larger than 1.5 tons is $250 for a single-family home and $150 for a multi-family building. A heat pump with a capacity of less than 1.5 tons qualifies for a $75 rebate. In order to qualify for the rebate, the heat pump must have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of at least 10 and must be inspected by Omaha Public Power District personnel.

When you install a qualifying heat pump you are also eligible for a special Energy Conservation Rate for the winter billing period (October through May). To qualify for this rate, your electric heat pump must supply at least 50% of your home’s space heating and cooling requirements and have an outdoor thermostat setting of 20┬░ F or lower.

FHA Loans and Their Documentation Requirements

Document Driven FHA Loans

If you have considered applying for an FHA loan, then you should become familiar with the FHA requirements so that you know what to expect. There are plenty of good reasons to choose FHA over conventional, so whether you are a first time homebuyer, or you are wishing to refinance your current home loan, you can talk to a professional about getting approved for an FHA loan.

The FHA loan requirements make it clear, that your first step is in knowing how much you can afford when considering buying a home. For this, there is a specific calculation that compares your current gross income to your existing debts in order to provide a maximum loan amount that you can qualify for. The guidelines are such that it forces to consider what can fit into your budget rather than focusing on what the maximum is you can borrow. Whether you are purchasing a home, or refinancing your current home loan, your FHA loan will be built around having a reasonable debt to income ratio, so what you budget for is important.

The second step is getting qualified. In a sense, you will still have to qualify even for a refinance. An FHA loan is not necessarily based on credit score, but it is based on several factors. Pay history, job time, and income are all a part of what helps you to qualify. The FHA requirements want you to show that you have the ability to repay the loan. Your loan will be driven by the documentation that you can provide, such as w2’s, tax returns, insurance, and above all good pay history. Your rental history will be used as pay history when buying a home, and even utility bills will be considered as alternative credit if you have no credit.

FHA guidelines state that a loan can be done for someone who has had a chapter 7 bankruptcy. The FHA requirements state that a new loan can be done two years from the date of the discharge. Additionally, an FHA loan for the purpose of a refinance can be done to pay off a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Again, their guidelines their guidelines are very specific. Not only does the bankruptcy have to be paid off, but the pay history must be perfect and must be given by the Bankruptcy Court Trustee.

Most anyone can apply for an FHA loan, and that includes investors or those who have rental properties. Rental income can be used as income, but the FHA requirements state that the individual needs to be able to prove that the rental income is stable. Rental properties or multi-family units can be considered as rental income, but rent from a property that is considered a second home for the borrower cannot be included in this. The documentation that FHA guidelines ask for, is the IRS schedule E from the 1040. From there, the underwriters have a specific calculation they work with to come to a determination.