Marcella Gilbert Uses Green Consumer Loan to Increase Energy Efficiency by Improving Home’s Water Systems
For Marcella Gilbert, a loan from Four Bands dramatically changed her home environment. As a participant in the Green Cheyenne River program, Marcella was able to utilize a Green Consumer Loan to improve the energy efficiency of her home. Specifically, the loan proceeds were used to update and improve the water lines to allow for use of the shower and sinks in the home.
Marcella comments, “What a blessing to have this opportunity. You really don’t appreciate the value of water until you have to ration it or haul it yourself.”
As part of the Green Cheyenne River program, a professional conducted an energy audit of Marcella’s home and identified opportunities for energy efficiency improvements. This service was provided free of charge to Marcella. Prior to making the improvements, all of the plumbing in the house was either leaking or not working.
Four Bands’ green consumer program was designed to help residents of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation lower energy bills while being a good environmental steward. A lot of the housing on the reservation has not been upgraded or repaired in over 30 years. Poor insulation, drafty windows, and outdated heating and cooling systems can cause higher than average energy bills, which puts a great financial strain on a population that is already facing the realities of poverty.
Reservation residents have to deal with dramatic shifts in utility bills from season to season. Our green consumer loan creates access to lending capital that can reduce those bills in the long-term.
As part of the lending program, Marcella completed a financial literacy course called “Credit When Credit is Due” that taught fundamental financial concepts such as budgeting, saving, and the responsible use of credit. In addition, Marcella opened up a savings account at Black Hills Federal Credit Union, and Four Bands seeded the account with $250. The purpose of the savings account and seed money is to encourage green consumer loan recipients to start building an emergency savings fund.
Marcella is grateful to have had the opportunity to take advantage of the resources Four Bands offers, and her attitude towards money and her outlook on her financial situation has changed.
“Major decisions concerning money have become meaningful, and I feel confident about moving forward in relation to either getting out of debt or going into debt. It’s not so scary anymore,” says Marcella.