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.