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Energy upgrades available to homeowners through HERO

LOS ANGELES — Property owners can make energy upgrades to their homes and then repay for the improvements over time through their property tax bill through the Home Energy Renovation Program (HERO).

The HERO program is a property-assessed clean energy (PACE) program that works with 427 different communities throughout the state, including most cities in Los Angeles County.

“One thing that is really great about the program is once the project is completed, the customer signs off on the completion certificate, verifying the contractor finished the project to their satisfaction and then we fund the contractor,” said Kelly Sandoval, a HERO representative.

“Homeowners can get the added assurance of knowing their going to get the job done right and be happy with the final product.”

Among the projects offered through the HERO program are heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, water-saving improvements and renewable energy systems. There are 60 different product types and they are all certified to meet state and federal efficiency standards.

Karina Garcia, a Downey resident, got her home upgraded last month because of the program.

Before she knew about HERO, her family had to control the temperature of the home with fans and space heaters. Only her daughter’s room had a window-mounted air-conditioner.

“Our house is really old, so we had a lot of problems with it,” Garcia said. “We finally got new insulation, brand new heating system and AC and solar panels.

“I was fascinated with the fast work and punctuality,” Garcia added. “It took about two weeks do get it all done.”

On Aug. 16, the West Hollywood City Council passed two initiatives related to energy upgrades.

One was the expansion of the PACE program so in addition to HERO, the city approved having several additional operators for the community.

Residents can chose depending on what kind of energy-efficiency upgrades they want to do in their home.

“Before the county was operating three programs, the HERO program, California First and a commercial PACE program,” said Robyn Eason, senior sustainability planner for the city of West Hollywood.

“With [the council’s] approval, we are allowing additional operators to allow for PACE financing within West Hollywood. It gives more options for West Hollywood community members who are interested in energy upgrades.”

The council also approved to proceed with the West Hollywood Solar Campaign, which will kick off early in the fall.

The city will provide an online marketplace and one-on-one technical assistant to local property owners interested in going solar.

Two other initiatives that West Hollywood is exploring are promoting electric vehicle readiness and more public outreach of existing energy efficiency programs.

Despite the programs and initiatives, consumers should still be aware of bad contractors.

Chris Perez, an L.A.-based contractor, works at American Vision Windows. The private company has been with HERO since 2012.

“Look for a contractor that’s reputable and has been in business for a long period of time,” he said. “Let’s say the contractor says he’s been in business for 20 years, but when you check their state license it says that it was issued two years ago. That’s a sign.”

For those interested in the HERO program, there are a couple different paths homeowners can take. They can work through a contractor and find one that is registered through HERO.

The other option is to go through their website or call center and they can assist the homeowner through the process.

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