By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- An energy conservation home makeover could be as close a telephone call away.
The Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce recently provided a nonprofit organization with space in their building to run a satellite office to help residents and business owners evaluate their energy efficiency and increase energy conservation.
The nonprofit Solar and Energy Loan Fund expanded its operations from St. Lucie County to Indian River County on Feb. 1 and is currently expanding further into Brevard, Martin and Okeechobee counties.
Alonzo Mitchell, a clean energy specialist, is available to talk about qualifying for the loan program, evaluations and benefits of the program for both Brevard and Indian River County.
SELF is certified as a community development financial institution by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which allows them to provide short-term low interest loans for clean energy solutions, including both energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, most notably solar projects in Florida, a press release said.
Since 2010, the organization has given out 188 loans worth $1.7 million, Mr. Mitchell said.
"By providing people with complete, thorough and high-quality inspections reviewing heavy energy-consuming products and making replacements with energy-saving products, SELF clients have seen an average savings of 24 percent in their electric bills," Mr. Mitchell said.
Both resident and commercial energy evaluations and loans are available.
"Many times, people think of replacing the air conditioning unit to something more efficient will help their power bills go down, but putting in a new system when all the air escapes through the windows and doors isn't going to help anything," Mr. Mitchell said. "Some of the most common energy saving steps are ensuring the windows, doors and air conditioning systems are high-efficiency and LED lights are used."
Working on the weatherization of the structure, including insulation, caulking window and door stripping can greatly conserve the energy in a structure and make a high-efficiency air conditioner work even better, Mr. Mitchell said.
"Why pour coffee in a cup with holes in it?" he said.
SELF also works with individuals who have low credit scores secure a loan for the energy projects.
The nonprofit began with a community development block grant of $2.5 million, but since then, the organization has continued to find further funding from community redevelopment funds held by banks.
For more information, contact Mr. Mitchell at (321) 458-4187 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. More details can be found online at www.cleanenergyloanprogram.org.