Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) has launched a new Maryland Home Energy Loan Program (MHELP) to provide Marylanders with unsecured, low-cost, funds for making home energy efficiency upgrades like better insulation and higher-rated heating and cooling equipment.

The loan funds, which originated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will help meet EmPOWER Maryland goal of reducing energy consumption by 15% by 2015 and cut the state’s carbon emissions 20% by 2025 as required by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2009.

The homeowners must complete a home energy audit performed by a certified auditor and with the audit recommendations in hand apply for the loan to make the necessary improvements that have to be performed by contractors with a Maryland Home Improvement Certification.

Homeowners with proof of a qualifying audit since 1 July 2010 can immediately apply for the loan from the MCEC, which will provide a maximum of $20,000 loan with the interest rate of 6.99%.

Maryland Energy Administration, which is administering funds, expects most home improvements to encompass upgrading insulation, plugging air leaks, sealing ducts and replacing furnaces, heat pumps and/or air conditioners that are at least 10 years old.