ECO-Link lowers interest rates, helping folks go solar

One barrier to solar can be its upfront cost. As solar has grown, this problem has been met by the availability of financing to help homeowners going solar. Still, financing eats away at the profitability of your system. A program from the Ohio Treasury Department can help. ECO-Link helps homeowners who want to add solar or energy efficiency improvements to their homes afford them by working with local banks to lower their interest rates.

This is not a direct loan. Instead, the Treasury Department makes an investment at the bank providing the loan to the homeowner. The Department takes a lower than expected rate of return on this investment. The bank then passes the difference on to the homeowner in the form of a lower interest rate. ECO-Link may lower the homeowner’s rate by as much as 3%.

Per the Ohio Treasury office, the process for participating in ECO-Link is as follows:

  1. Talk with a banker to determine your eligibility to qualify for a loan.
  2. Receive a quote from a contractor or home rater.
  3. Give your ECO-Link application along with project quotes or receipts to your lender for submission to the Ohio Treasury.
  4. Once approved, close the loan with your bank.
  5. The bank will then disburse the funds to you directly or hold the funds until the contractor is able to be paid.

ECO-Link was created in 2002. Last year, 278 Ohio homeowners made use of ECO-Link to make home improvements. This is up from just 79 in 2012, according to the ECO-Link office. The office said solar and Geothermal are ECO-LINK’s most popular projects.

They also advise homeowners who take part in the program to ensure the bid they receive from their installer is clear, concise, and has information regarding the system’s expected output. This will reduce back and forth between you and the Treasury office.

For more information, contact the program via e-mail at ecolink@tos.ohio.gov or at (800) 228-1102.