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Citizens Bank offering cheap insulation loans

Citizens Bank said it is again offering small, unsecured, low-rate loans to help low- to moderate-income homeowners in Buffalo pay for winterization projects to help make their homes more energy-efficient.

Through March 31, 2007, the bank's Winterization Loan program offers qualifying homeowners the ability to borrow from $1,000 to $3,000 at a 1 percent interest rate for up to 84 months, with a Citizens deposit account. For larger needs, a rate of 3 percent is available on loans of $3,001 to $1,000, also for up to 84 months, but with no account requirement.

The program is intended to help homeowners who might not otherwise be able to get a loan and who might have to postpone projects to improve their home's energy efficiency until they have enough money or can use a credit card. The program was also offered last year.

"With all the talk about high heating bills this winter, we looked at how we might be helpful to Buffalo homeowners seeking long-term energy conservation solutions," said Jon Little, Citizens' retail director for Western New York. "We hope to make it feasible for homeowners to add insulation, upgrade furnaces or home-heating systems, install storm windows and doors, or make other improvements."

The program is designed for families in Western New York earning less than $58,300 a year, based on 80 percent of the median family income guidelines for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The income threshold may vary depending on where the consumer actually lives.

There are no fees or closing costs, but there is a $25 minimum monthly payment. Applicants must own and live in a single-family home or condominium where improvements are being made, and will have to supply estimates for the cost of energy efficient home improvements.

Under the program's terms, a fixed-rate loan of $1,000, at 1 percent over three years would cost $28.20 a month when the payments are automatically deducted from a Citizens checking or savings account, which is required for that rate. Only one 1 percent loan is allowed per household.

A $10,000 loan at 3 percent over seven years would be $132.13 a month.


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