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Habitat for Humanity builds houses for people who might not otherwise be able to afford their own homes. And now Habitat houses built in and around Harrisonburg, Virginia, will come with solar panels.

Jeff Heie directs GiveSolar. Last year, the nonprofit project raised $127,000 for its “solar seed fund.” The money will be used to pay the upfront cost of solar installations on homes built by the local Habitat affiliate.

“Homeowners are not getting solar for free. They are getting solar through a zero-interest loan,” Heie says. “And they’re paying about $20 a month for the duration of the term of their mortgage.”

But Heie expects they will save an average of $40 to $50 a month on their utility bills. So even as they’re paying off the cost of the panels, they’ll be saving money overall.

And he says those monthly savings will increase as the cost of energy from the utility goes up over time.

“We’re trying to provide access to clean energy for low-income households,” Heie says. “We’re trying to provide economic security over time for these households. And we’re also attempting to achieve climate change solutions.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media