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Sustainability Loans

Solar Panels and Installation

Solar electric energy is becoming one of the most valuable tools for reducing one’s overall footprint on the environment and participating in the clean energy economy. Get your first solar array for your home, business, or farm land or add on to your already existing system. Solar energy has no direct greenhouse gas emissions, creates valuable community jobs and social benefits, is infinite (as long as the sun is shining!), and made with durable, long-lasting materials. Join the solar movement and see if solar power is right for you!


With an ENERGY STAR certified product, you are making the simple choice for energy efficiency. Some of the world’s best scientists and engineers have come together to make it easier to identify the products that save money, reduce energy waste, and increase home comfort. ENERGY STAR products include appliances, building products, commercial food service equipment, electronics, heating and cooling products, lighting, office equipment, and water heaters. If you aren’t sure where to look for your energy efficiency needs, ENERGY STAR is a trusted resource to help make your decision much easier.

Learn more here: ENERGY STAR Products

High Efficiency Water Heaters

We all love a hot shower, but you could be losing hard-earned cash from your inefficient water heater. Heating water in your home accounts for about 15% of your home’s energy use (and hot showers are the biggest piece of that pie). High efficiency water heaters use anywhere from 10-50% less energy than standard models, which will save you money on your future utility bills. Below is a list of the various high efficiency water heater technologies:

  • Storage (Tank) Water Heaters
  • Demand (Tankless) Water Heaters
  • Heat Pump Water Heaters
  • Solar Water Heating


Home Heating and Cooling Upgrades

Though efficient appliances, furnaces, and heaters act as their own upgrades, this sustainability project covers everything else in between. A good portion of the cost for energy-saving products can be found in the installation cost. This project can include insulation upgrades, home retrofits for deep energy reduction, and other upgrades that reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat or cool one’s home or living space.

Did you know that heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes?

Learn more here: Heating and Cooling | Department of Energy

Wood-Burning Fireplaces and Stoves

Though traditional wood-burning fireplaces and stoves add ambiance, glow, and warmth to your home, most are energy hogs, converting about 15% of the wood’s energy into useful heat. Lucky for you, new energy-efficient fireplace designs and technologies allow homeowners to achieve efficiency ratings of 75% or more! Even better, these new models reduce the amount of particulate matter and other pollutants produced by burning logs. If you are already using wood to heat, this upgrade will save both the amount of wood (either cords or pellets) you need and will greatly improve the air quality of your home during those prime heating months.

*The use of wood as a primary residential heat source in the United States has grown by 39% since 2004, according to the Department of Energy, and about 8% of homes nationwide now use wood as a secondary source of heat. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduces new regulations designed to make wood stoves even more efficient, people are rediscovering wood as a smart, renewable source of energy.

Learn more here: Hot New Wood Stoves: High-Tech & Eco-Friendly

New Energy-Efficient Windows, Doors, and Skylights

Though installing improved, energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights won’t save as much as new energy-intensive appliances and insulation, the benefits should not be overlooked. Replacing old windows, for example, with ENERGY STAR certified windows lowers household energy bills by an average of 12% nationwide. Lower energy consumption reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and shrinks a house’s overall carbon footprint.

These upgrades offer special benefits such as reduced UV sun damage to floors, carpets, and furniture. Additionally, your home’s temperature stays consistently comfortable and predictable.

Learn more here: Benefits of ENERGY STAR Windows, Doors, and Skylights

EV (Electric Vehicle) Residential Charging Unit

So you have an EV, or will soon be getting one with the OUCU 0% EV Loan Program, and you want to have a reliable residential EV charger that gives you more juice than your trickle-charge. As the price for EVs has dropped fast with more people buying, so too have the complementary residential chargers. EVs outpace regular cars by typically having less lifetime costs in fuel and maintenance, but public charging capabilities are still catching up to the hype!

The cost to install an EV level 2 charger (or higher) varies with the distance to your home’s power source and difficulty in the installation. They range from cheap to very expensive (to upgrade electric service and installation). If you buy a networked EV charger, then you should factor in linking it up to your router too. In most cases, you’ll also have to get them permitted.

Learn more here: Residential Level 2 EV Charger Roundup

Solar Generator (with Battery Component)

Unlike the noisy fossil fuel-powered generator models, solar generators offer a breath a fresh air to those looking for additional mobile power or a safeguard for emergencies in the event of losing grid-tied power. Solar generators, usually paired with a battery component for storage, come in all shapes and sizes. A solar-powered generator is reliable, eco-friendly, and best of all, emit far less fumes and require less maintenance than typical generators. Go small for your road trips and other travels to keep laptops and phones running or go big to keep lights, refrigerators, freezers, and TVs operational when the grid goes down. These systems are clean, multi-functional, and highlight the various applications of solar energy.

Learn more here: What exactly is a Solar Generator? – Frequently Asked Questions

E-Bikes – Electric Bicycles

Electric bicycles, also known as e-bikes, add extra pep to your peddle power by making riding through town more exhilarating than your average bicycle. E-bikes can be purchased fully assembled or can be added as a battery-powered component to your regular bicycle. Use this as a regular commuting vehicle and you’ll see significant savings on gas, have less stress about parking, and will be able to go up those daunting hills with ease! Turn every commute into a joyride by joining the e-bike revolution towards more sustainable community transportation.

For questions on your financing options, please contact OUCU at memberservices@oucu.org

For general sustainability questions, please contact UpGrade Athens County (a project of UpGrade Ohio) at mathew@upgradeohio.org

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