Lots of us are looking to make lifestyle changes to help avert the climate crisis – but the cost of some larger solutions can be off-putting.
Butterfield is aiming to change that with a range of “green loans” it launched last September.
Teresa Gibson, Vice President, Consumer Credit, said the bank now lends money to allow customers to buy solar panels and other household items, such as eco-friendly doors and windows, energy efficient appliances, tankless water heaters and climate control air conditioning.
The loans can also be used for electric and hybrid cars and their charging stations.
“A green loan is a finance product that makes it easier for people to purchase energy efficient products,” Ms Gibson explained.
“When we looked at our products, we wanted to see how we can assist the community.”
The initiative is part of the financial institution’s commitment to its ESG – environmental, social and governance – framework, a concept becoming increasingly important in the corporate world, as companies look to show their investors that they care about more than just making money.
The green loans on offer from Butterfield are all about helping customers do the right thing for the environment within their budgets and without a prohibitively expensive initial outlay.
Ms Gibson said: “We put these products forward to get more individuals on board in just reducing their carbon footprint.
“We can do 100 per cent financing. For our unsecured loans, we can go anywhere between $500 and $50,000.
“The loans are for five- or ten-year terms, depending on the size of the debt.”
Green loans for cars are for a maximum of seven years.
Some secured loans for amounts above $50,000 – where customers must provide collateral, such as their home, against the debt – can be for longer terms.
Ms Gibson said: “It’s based on the customer’s income and finances and what that piece looks like.
“We try to make the repayments as comfortable as possible. Individuals can make extra payments, for example when it’s bonus time or if they are working additional hours.”
She noted that installing solar panels can help reduce energy bills over the longer term and that customers might want to consider them and other green options as the weather warms up.
Ms Gibson said those applying for green loans don’t have to be a Butterfield customer already – though they will have to open an account once approved.
“The lending rates may vary according to our base rate, which is currently 7.25 per cent for new Bermuda-dollar consumer loans,” she added.
“We work closely with clients to understand their financial needs and to provide comfortable repayment options.”
Ms Gibson did not have exact figures for loan applications so far but said a “number of people” were interested.
“We have actually launched this in the Cayman Islands as well and their feedback has been much the same.”