Stephanie Schwenn Sebring

Tap Into Low-Cost Renewable Energy Funds…with Michigan Saves


October 15, 2012

Consumers Credit Union Is One of Nine Michigan Lenders Offering Financing

Kalamazoo, Mich. – Consumers Credit Union is one of only nine Michigan credit unions partnering with Michigan Saves, a non-profit organization which provides affordable financing options to homeowners of all income levels for energy-saving home improvements. This residential loan program is also unique in that credit unions, such as Consumers, are the only lenders

Julie Metty Bennett, Financial Manager for Michigan Saves, says she feels fortunate for having such a strong credit union culture in Michigan focused on communities and the drive to providing community benefits through both energy efficiency and renewable energy. “Credit unions are leading the way in energy efficiency financing,” adds Bennett. Also key to success is the Michigan Saves link with area contractors and installers. “Besides growing loans with existing members, contractors from the program serve as ambassadors, bringing new members to the credit union,” says Bennett.

Growing the renewable energy loan market not only benefits credit union portfolios, but more importantly, benefits the members and communities these credit unions serve. According to the Filene Institute in Madison, Wisconsin, green loans are good for the financial health of homeowners, with energy savings increasing their disposable incomes. Just as fuel-efficient cars save consumers money, energy-efficient homes save consumers money in lower utility bills – saving the homeowner up to 24% on energy bills, depending upon the upgrade, with an average savings of $2,200 per homeowner annually.

Upfront costs often present a significant barrier preventing homeowners from investing in energy efficiency improvements, despite the long-term savings.  With help from Michigan Saves, Consumers works to provide innovative financing alternatives for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades. The program provides unsecured personal loans between $1,000 to $20,000 at a fixed annual percentage rate of 7% and terms up to 10 years. Since its inception, the program has fostered more than 1,400 loans totaling more than $11 million.

Virtually any type of home can benefit. For example, Michigan Saves has cut energy bills in homes ranging dramatically in age – from those built in 1801 to those in 2012, with the average home being 61 years of age. The most recent homeowner on record used a Michigan Saves loan to install a ground source (geothermal) heat pump, taking advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems. On average, the total project cost for energy improvements is $8,500.

Key installation highlights include:

  • More than 500 high-efficiency furnaces
  • More than 1,160 new windows
  • More than 550 attics and 270 walls insulated
  • More than 1,000 homes received “air sealing” to eliminate wasteful leaks
  • More than 31 ground source heat pumps and 6 solar photovoltaic installations
Rhonda Royer, Senior Loan Officer and Michigan Saves Liaison

Royer says, “We’ve seen tremendous growth in energy efficiency loans through the Michigan Saves Program. Members receive an excellent rate plus savings in utility bills…along with an all-around more energy-efficient home.”

More About Michigan Saves

Michigan Saves is an independent and nonprofit organization dedicated to making energy improvements easy and affordable – via low-cost financing programs for homeowners. Its website makes it easy to find an authorized contractor who will assess an individual’s needs and help choose the right improvement projects that make sense for their home. The contractor will provide an estimate and walk the homeowner through the financing process. Visit or call Consumers at 800.991.2221 to find out how you can link up with a Michigan Saves contractor for this low-cost financing opportunity. 

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