energy alliance news

One Million Dollars in Energy Efficiency Loans!

1 Million

It may seem counter intuitive that a nonprofit organization would operate as a loan provider. From our perspective, it is one of the most important services that the Energy Alliance provides to our community.

This is why we are very excited to share that the Energy Alliance has funded over $1 million of whole-home energy efficiency upgrades through the Greater Cincinnati Home Energy Loan Program loan fund.

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance’s mission is to facilitate investment in energy efficiency. We do this through education, project management, and financial solutions.

Reduced cost assessments through our Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program and cash incentives for improvement measures help nudge homeowners who are hesitant to commit to a whole-home energy efficiency upgrade to take the first steps.

The Energy Alliance’s Greater Cincinnati Home Energy Loan Program (GC-HELP) enables homeowners to take that great leap towards deep energy savings, improved comfort, and whole-home health. GC-HELP removes the financial barrier that many homeowners face when considering making home energy improvements. It enables homeowners to invest more in their homes with a low-interest loan, to make bigger improvements, and consequently to see bigger savings in their bills.

GC-HELP Loan Empowerment

Most people don’t get excited about loans. We really do. That’s why we made GC-HELP as easy as possible for homeowners to use to finance their home energy efficiency projects. Homeowners can be approved within an hour of application and begin planning their home improvements right away.

In order to access a GC-HELP loan, a homeowner must commit to a 15 percent reduction in their home’s energy usage. Every home able to make even a 15 percent reduction is a reason to celebrate. Typically, homeowners who utilize our GC-HELP decide to invest more into their home’s energy efficiency. On average, homeowners who choose to finance their home energy improvements with a GC-HELP loan invest up to 25 percent more in their home.

“We saw an increase in what people were able to do.”

Bigger projects mean deeper savings. And deeper savings means a greater investment in our local economy, longer strides in improving the air quality of our region, and a much more significant impact in the environment. Examples of the type of larger projects funded by GC-HELP include geothermal heating and cooling systems. As an alternative to traditional HVAC systems, geothermal heating systems utilize renewable technology to heat and cool local homes.

In addition to encouraging deeper savings for homeowners, GC-HELP has made energy saving home improvements possible for families who otherwise would not have been able to move forward with a home energy upgrade. Overall, it makes projects more manageable for homeowners, no matter what the size of the project

Deep Energy Savings

When a homeowner chooses to improve their home through the whole-home approach to energy efficiency, they are improving the way the home works as a system. Typically, this means addressing air leaks in the home through air sealing, insulating attic floors and walls, replacing inefficient HVAC systems, and addressing the small details that add up in savings, for instance, the installation of programmable thermostats..

“ Our residential customers have saved an estimated 6 Million kWh. That’s enough energy to take a 747 to the moon and back – 6 times. ”

The first GC-HELP loan was funded in June of 2011. As of April 16, 2013, over one hundred homeowners in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region have taken advantage of the opportunity to improve the quality of their homes through energy efficiency upgrades with GC-HELP.

The Energy Alliance has helped over 1,800 residential property owners to make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes through our residential program. Together, our residential customers save an estimated 6 million kWh of energy annually.

Development of Greater Cincinnati

According to Andy Holzhauser, the founder and CEO of the Energy Alliance, the availability of energy efficiency loans like the GC-HELP loan is “critical” to the development of the Greater Cincinnati region. Andy believes, “there’s no better unsecured loan in the market today. It’s very customer friendly, with a low-interest rate offering an extended term and no pre-payment penalty.  A homeowner can take it for three months or ten years or anything in between.” In other words, GC-HELP is flexible enough to work for almost anyone, and it helping Cincinnati to improve its infrastructure and develop an industry.

“There’s more work to be done.”

The challenge remains to make every home and building in the region energy efficient. Until then, from our perspective, there’s more work to be done.

To learn more about GC-HELP, visit our GC-HELP page.

energy alliance news

Greater Cincinnati Leads the Region in Energy Efficiency Investment Through GC-HELP


CINCINNATI, OH – May 9, 2013 – The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (Energy Alliance) surpassed a milestone this week, having lent out over $1 million to local homeowners through its Greater Cincinnati Home Energy Loan Program (GC-HELP). GC-HELP finances whole-home energy efficiency upgrades for homeowners who participate in the Energy Alliance’s nationally recognized Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program, which was developed through the organization’s participation in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program.

GC-HELP was created in 2011 with support from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and in partnership with AFC First Financial Corporation. GC-HELP is available to residents of Hamilton County in Ohio and Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties in Kentucky.

By removing the barrier to investment in energy efficiency with a low-interest loan and a quick and painless application process for homeowners, GC-HELP makes energy efficiency projects more manageable and encourages deeper home energy improvements.

When a homeowner chooses to improve their home through the whole-home approach to energy efficiency, they are improving the way the home works as a system. Homeowners start saving money from the day a project is completed. On average, every dollar invested in energy efficiency generates three dollars in savings.

Andy Holzhauser, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Alliance, noted the availability of energy efficiency loans like the GC-HELP loan is “critical” to the development of clean energy projects in the Greater Cincinnati region. Holzhauser commented, A million dollars invested in energy efficiency represents a far greater economic impact than the face value of the amount because the investment generates significant savings for homeowners; it also creates jobs that cannot be outsourced; and on top of all that, it builds a sustainable future for the region’s environment.”

“By ensuring that its loans are being made to established standards for residential energy efficiency financing the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is at the forefront of an emerging secondary market for these types of loans,” said Peter Krajsa, Chairman and CEO of AFC First Financial Corporation, a national energy efficiency lender who helps facilitate the loan program.  “Access to the secondary market will provide the Energy Alliance with an ongoing and sustainable source of loan capital.”

Lending over $1 million through GC-HELP was a major milestone for the Energy Alliance. Before its founding in 2009, there was a lack of financing options in the area for energy efficiency projects. This investment has helped position the Greater Cincinnati area as not only a regional epicenter for energy efficiency investment, but also as a national leader in efficiency.

The Energy Alliance is developing a new energy efficiency loan to support homeowners’ individual and urgent needs for their homes. This loan will be available to finance independent energy efficiency improvements such as emergency HVAC replacement. Information is expected to be released following its annual contractor development meeting on May 15, 2013.

About the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (Energy Alliance)

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a nonprofit economic development agency that drives investment in energy efficiency in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities by providing education, project management, and innovative financing solutions.  The Energy Alliance is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program of the U.S. Department of Energy.  For additional information please visit the Energy Alliance online at

Low interest loan to help residents make energy upgrades

Local loan program gets $500,000 boost from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation

CINCINNATI – March 29, 2012 – The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (Energy Alliance) announced today that The Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) will invest $500,000 into a local loan program that helps residents make energy upgrades to their homes, typically saving residents 20 percent or more on their annual energy bills.

This “impact investment,” a type of loan made with charitable funds, is being made to the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance’s loan program, which provides unsecured loans of up to $20,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6.99 percent to qualified residents to make their homes more energy efficient.  In addition, homeowners who use the loan program can save up to 35 percent on the total cost of the upgrades.  That means $10,000 in upgrades to such things as windows, doors, insulation and/or heating and cooling systems would only cost a homeowner $6,500.

“This is really a win-win for everyone,’’ said Andy Holzhauser, Executive Director of the Energy Alliance. “This contribution is helping us achieve our goals in creating a sustainable loan fund, and helps us potentially attract more national funding that will cut down the cost for future investors. “And all the while, we are able to provide homeowners real savings to improve their homes, lower their utility costs and create jobs for local contractors, which is making a real and continued investment in our local economy.’’

That is exactly why The Greater Cincinnati Foundation made an impact investment in GCEA, said Robert Killins, GCF’s Program Director of Vibrant Places.  The Foundation has made several grants to support the start-up operation of the Energy Alliance since 2009, including $250,000 in grants to conduct energy assessments and retrofits for nonprofit organizations. To date, the Energy Alliance has leveraged approximately $20 million dollars in public and private capital to facilitate energy efficiency for homeowners, nonprofit organizations and commercial building owners.

“Impact investments use charitable assets to support projects that can generate revenue and financial returns as well as direct community benefits,” he said. “They help make an even greater difference in multiple ways right here where we live.”

The goal of the nonprofit Energy Alliance is to create a $10 million pooled loan fund, seeded with $2.5 million of a $17 million U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings grant, and raising $7.5 million in private capital to sustain the loan program. A sustainable loan fund will generate the following benefits:

  • GC-HELP is a low-cost, fixed rate, unsecured loan for up to 10 years is made available to qualified homeowners in Hamilton County in Ohio and Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky for both emergency and proactive energy improvements. There are no application fees. Comparable unsecured loans are offered at 15 percent, while many unsecured credit cards have rates over 20 percent.
  • Contractors can offer an attractive financing plan to help their customers make energy improvements in their homes, generating more business for the region’s contractors.
  • Lenders can participate in an attractive investment opportunity that allows them to invest in a new market, reach new consumers and deploy their capital with significantly mitigated risk.

Homeowners and contractors can apply online at

The Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky communities reduce their energy costs. The Energy Alliance provides education, expertise and innovative financing to help the region to become more energy efficient, saving money for residents while also creating local jobs. Visit

The Greater Cincinnati Foundationhelps people make the most of their giving to build a better community. We believe in the power of philanthropy to change the lives of people and communities. As a community foundation, GCF creates a prosperous Greater Cincinnati by investing in thriving people and vibrant places. An effective steward of the community’s charitable resources since 1963, the Foundation inspires philanthropy in eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Visit