Energy Efficiency Loan Program

April 20, 2015


The Keystone HELP Energy Efficiency Loan Program is designed to help homeowners improve energy efficiency with special financing for high-efficiency heating, air conditioning, insulation, windows, doors, geothermal and “whole house” improvements. Principally supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the Keystone HELP program is administered by AFC First Financial Corporation, a Pennsylvania energy efficiency lender.

Pennsylvania homeowners who own and make qualifying improvements to their one- or two-unit primary residence located in the state and whose combined annual household income does not exceed $250,000 are eligible to apply for loans under this program. Eligible applicants may receive only one loan during each fiscal year, but they may apply for additional loans in future years, as long as the additional projects comply with the published guidelines current at the time of application. Loans are available only for projects initiated after February 23, 2009. All installed equipment and material must be new, and work must be performed by a qualifying contractor. A list of qualifying contractors is available on the program web site.

The following types of loans are available for energy efficiency in general:

  • Energy Improvements with Air Sealing (CAPP) Loans (unsecured) are for heating, cooling, insulation and other Energy Star qualified improvements that are part of a comprehensive project of blower door directed air sealing and other energy saving measures recommended by a BPI-certified contractor. The loan range is $1,000 - $15,000 with a fixed interest rate of 2.99% on a 3, 5, or 10 year loan term.
  • Energy Star Loans (unsecured) are for the installation of qualifying Energy Star improvements or other improvements that meet program criteria. The loan range is $1,000 - $15,000. The rate is 8.99% (fixed). The term options are 3, 5 or 10 years.
  • Advanced Performance Energy Star Loans (unsecured) are for the installation of qualifying improvements that exceed Energy Star standards. The loan range is $1,000 - $15,000. The rate is 7.99% (fixed). The term options are 3, 5 or 10 years.
  • Whole House Improvement Loans (secured) are for improvements that make a whole house more energy-efficient, as recommended by an approved energy auditor. The loan range is $5,000 - $35,000. The rate range is 3.875% - 6.375% (fixed). The term options are 10, 15 or 20 years. Whole House Improvement Loans are available for qualifying improvements determined by a comprehensive "whole house" energy audit conducted by a qualifying auditor and the recommended energy improvements presented by the auditor. A post-construction audit is also conducted. Eligible applicants will receive $325 towards the cost of the energy audit from Keystone HELP upon completion of the post-construction audit.

In October 2010, the program introduced a series of new loan options for homeowners that install geothermal heat pump systems. Projects must be initiated after the effective date of the program (October 22, 2010) in order to qualify. There are no income limits for geothermal loans. Geothermal loan options are as follows:

  • Geothermal Heat Pump System Loans (unsecured) from $1,000 - $15,000 are available for closed-loop geo-exchange systems that meet the Energy Star Tier II designation, as well as other improvements that are Energy Star qualified or meet program standards. Loans have a fixed interest rate of 4.99% over terms of 3, 5, or 10 years. Participants in this program (10-year term only) are also eligible for a geothermal tax credit anticipation loan set at 30% of the cost of the system (the value of the federal tax credit) from $2,500 - $10,000. Under this option, Keystone HELP makes the first 12 regular monthly payments of interest and principal on behalf of the borrower.
  • Geothermal Heat Pump System Loans with Whole House Improvements (secured) are for projects that combine a closed-loop geo-exchange system that meets the Energy Star Tier II designation with whole house improvements recommended by a BPI/RESNET certified energy audit. A minimum energy savings of 15% - 25% is required depending on the energy profile of the home. Loan amounts may range from $5,000 - $35,000 at interest rates form 2.875% - 5.375% over terms of 10, 15 or 20 years. Eligible applicants will receive $325 towards the cost of the energy audit from Keystone HELP.

For more information please see the program website, which contains detailed program guidelines and also lists several private loans that are available for people and projects that do not qualify for the Keystone loan programs.

Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Financial Incentive
State: Pennsylvania
Incentive Type: Loan Program
Web Site:
Administrator: AFC First Financial Corporation
Start Date: 02/23/2009 (general); 10/22/2010 (geothermal loans)
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Biomass
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps
  • Ceiling Fan
  • Equipment Insulation
  • Water Heaters
  • Furnaces
  • Boilers
  • Heat pumps
  • Air conditioners
  • Programmable Thermostats
  • Caulking/Weather-stripping
  • Duct/Air sealing
  • Building Insulation
  • Windows
  • Comprehensive Measures/Whole Building
  • Other EE
Maximum Loan: $35,000 (varies by loan type)
Loan Term: Vary by loan type; interest rates generally from 2.99% - 8.99% with terms from 3 - 20 years


Name: Tessa Shin
Organization: AFC First Financial Corporation
Address: PO Box 3558
Allentown PA 18106
Phone: (888) 232-3477

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.