For homeowners who are hesitant to make energy efficiency upgrades, offering them a honeymoon might just be the motivation they need. NeighborWorks of Western Vermont (NWWVT) created a "honeymoon period" for its loan payments and has seen success by allowing homeowners to experience six months of comfort and energy savings before they begin making loan payments.
The honeymoon period concept is pretty simple. First, NWWVT loans funds directly to a homeowner to pay for the upgrade. The homeowner enjoys six months of energy savings without making any loan payments or accruing any interest. Then, the homeowner begins paying off the loan to NWWVT in the seventh month at a low interest rate.
"We believe clients view this [lag time] as an added bonus to the other benefits they are experiencing [with energy efficiency upgrades]" says Mary Cohen, NWWVT Director of Homeowner Services, "and it may play a role in their decision to ultimately get the work done."
NWWVT did experience some initial challenges while setting up the payment holiday, due to their lack of experience with consumer lending and with setting up a deferred timeframe in their system. Overcoming these obstacles has been worth it, though. NWWVT says they haven't noticed any downsides to the program, but they advise other programs to consider the honeymoon period timeframe before launching the offer. "Homeowners like to take advantage in the fall when they will experience the benefits without having to pay for it—until their taxes come in." says Cohen.
Due to its success, NWWVT says that it will offer the honeymoon period for the duration of its grant and most likely beyond, which is welcome news for homeowners in an economy where every dollar counts.