"And we have seen a reduction," said Charlene Neuman. "At least $50 in our electric bill."
But they couldn't pay the $12,000 alone, so they looked to SELF for assistance. They got a loan with a fixed interest rate of 4 percent APR. They now pay $290 a month and say it will take them about seven years to pay the windows off.
"It was expensive but well worth it because in the long run we will save that, and within 10 years, we will earn that back," said Neuman.
Michael Small of Fort Pierce also made the change to green energy.
He outfitted his home with 36 solar panels that provide all the electricity his family could use during the day. At night, he taps into Florida Power & Light energy. His energy bill now, he says, is $6 a month.
Small is paying $45,000 through a SELF loan, with a 4 percent interest rate. At $290 a month, he says 10 years from now the investment will be paid off.
"I think it's fantastic. I think everyone should take advantage of it," said Small.
Kevin Petrovsky, a Northwood University Environmental Sciences professor, says solar energy has come a long way.
"This third generation of photovoltaics that we're in is much more efficient, much more cost-effective, has a longer life span and is certainly making things a much more attractive investment," said Petrovsky.
SELF has issued more than 100 loans for home improvements such as high-efficiency air conditioners, solar attic fans and lighting and insulation, to name a few. More than 550 St. Lucie County homes have gotten a free energy audit.
"Probably 25 percent of our clients are making money in month one," said Doug Coward, who runs SELF. "And what I mean by that is the investments that they've made are generating greater savings in energy than the cost of the loan, so their net result is actually to make money."
Petrovsky says the key to going green is to do your homework on the technology and identify your family's energy needs.
If you'd like to sign up for a SELF loan, or get your home audited, now may be the time. Free energy audits go away and the interest rates go up in July.
For more information, contact SELF at (772) 468-1818 or visit www.facebook/solarenergyloanfund .