Clean Up Your Act

Want in on a dirty little secret? A less-than-pristine furnace could be costing you, big time. Furnaces with dirty filters or ducts waste energy and money, shorten the life of your furnace, and pollute your indoor air. The good news? Cleaning up your furnace’s act starts with changing the filter regularly.

Clean vs dirty filtersIt is recommended that you change your filters at least every 3 months, but the more people and pets you have in your home, the more you should think about changing your filters. Additionally, if you have a family member with allergies, it is recommended to change them more often.


HVAC
Why are they important? 

100% of the air in your home passes through a filter, typically twice every hour. Since clean, quality air filters keep the air in your home fresh, the people inside stay healthier. A quality air filters captures the harmful bacteria typically found in sneezes, coughs, viruses and molds, as well as pollutants like dust and car fumes.

Clean filters also keep your HVAC system healthy–they enable it to run more efficiently, keep repair costs to a minimum, and reduce monthly energy bills. About half of your monthly energy bill is attributed to HVAC, and keeping clean air filters is the single most effective way to improve HVAC efficiency. Clogged filters make the HVAC work harder as it conditions your home, which raises your energy bill. (And if there are no filters, the coils will clog, which is even worse for your system!)

How to do it

1. Your furnace filters will either be located in your return vents or some HVAC systems have two filters located within the actual furnace.

2. Note the filter size. This is usually printed on the cardboard frame. We recommend stocking up on new ones when you go to the hardware store so that you don’t have to run to the store each time you want to change your filter.

3. When installing your new filters, make sure to note which direction they should be installed in. To ensure proper airflow, the arrow on the edge of the filter should be pointing towards the blower motor.

Pro Tip

If you’re asking yourself when was the last time you changed your air filters don’t worry, it’s easy to forget. Your air filters are out of sight and therefore out of mind. So how do you ensure that you remember to change your filters? Try scheduling a monthly reminder to help you remember to check your filter monthly and change it when it’s dirty. The next time you go to the store, pick up a few extra filters so you don’t have to make the trip again in three months.

Oregon Electric Vehicle Rebates

Did you know that Oregon Has one of the best EV incentives in the country? The Oregon Clean Energy Rebate Program offers Oregon residents a rebate of up to $2,500, when paired with the $7,500 Federal tax credit drivers can save $10,000 off a new electric car.

In addition to the standard rebate there is an extra rebate available for Low to Moderate Income drivers called the Charge Ahead Program that offers up to $2,500 off a new or used electric car!

You want to make sure you know what is available and what qualifies before you start shopping.

What Cars Qualify?

Some of these requirements are a little wonky but there is a list of eligible cars and the rebate they qualify for that can be found here.

A qualifying vehicle for the new Oregon rebate must:

  • Have a base manufacturer’s suggested retail price of less than $50,000 (This includes Tesla Model 3s because the base is $35k)
  • Be covered by a manufacturer’s express warranty on the vehicle drive train, including the battery pack, for at least 24 months from the date of purchase
  • Be either a battery electric vehicle OR a plug-in hybrid vehicle that has at least 10 miles of EPA-rated all-electric range and warranty of at least 15 years and 150,000 miles on emission control components.
    1. $2,500 goes to vehicles with battery capacities above 10 kWh.
    2. $1,500 goes to vehicles with a battery capacity of 10 kWh or less.
  • Be a new vehicle, or used only as a dealership floor model or test-drive vehicle
  • The rebate will apply to new electric vehicles that are purchased or leased, with a minimum 24-month lease term.

How does the state rebate work?

  • You have to apply for your rebate within 6 months of your purchase.
  • You can find your application forms here.
  • The rebate will be returned to you as a check not a tax credit which means you don’t have to wait till tax return season and it is available even if you don’t have a large enough tax liability in Oregon.

Income qualified additional incentive.

The Charge Ahead incentive is available for low and Moderate income households and offers a $2,500 rebate for the purchase of a new or used fully electric car. This can be used in addition to the standard rebate which would add up to $5,000 from the state! This program will help bring the benefits of electric vehicles to many more Oregonians.

In order to qualify for the rebate you must:
  • Be a low or moderate income household. (For Deschutes county this is $83,500 for a family of 4)
  • Be an Oregon resident (with a valid ID)
  • Purchase or lease a new or used battery electric vehicle from a dealer (no person-to-person sales or plug in hybrids)
    • Only vehicles purchased or leased after January 1, 2018 are eligible
  • Register the car in Oregon, and retain registration for at least 24 months
  • Provide documentation showing proof of income eligibility
  • Submit your application within 6 months after the purchase or lease date

The state is working hard  on making this a sustainable process for many years to come. The first standard incentives should be mailed in January of 2019 and Charge Ahead rebates should be mailed in June of 2019.

As with all EV questions please reach out to Neil@EnviroCenter.org for more details.

Increased Incentives for Energy Upgrades in Manufactured Homes

Time-limited promotion for heat pumps and ductless heat pumps could cut heating bills in half

As Central Oregonians start bundling up and turning up the dials on the thermostat, Energy Trust of Oregon, in partnership with local Trade Ally, Bend Heating, is turning up the savings and comfort with increased incentives for heating projects for eligible manufactured homes.

Increased incentives are available for Pacific Power customers who are replacing electric resistance and forced air heating systems with super-efficient heat pumps and ductless heat pumps in manufactured homes. For the duration of this promotion, which will run until March 31, 2019, the cash incentive for these systems will increase from $700-800 to $2,500-3,000 depending on the system installed. There are no income limitations for eligibility.

Heat pump technology is highly efficient and can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 50 percent or more. Rather than creating heat from scratch, heat pumps move heat. Even when temperatures dip to zero degrees, they pull residual heat out of the air and move it into your home. When running in air conditioning mode, they operate just like your refrigerator by moving warm air out of your home.

Energy Trust completed a competitive selection process to choose installation partners from their pool of qualified Trade Allies. These partners will also offer additional reductions in installation costs. As a result, manufactured homeowners could install an efficient new heating system with prices starting at $1,800, which is about 60 percent less than normal.

For Central Oregon, Bend Heating & Sheet Metal, Inc was selected to offer these increased incentives and has committed to offering discounted prices until the end of the promotion.

“We are so excited to be part of this program for manufactured homeowners. The initial study proved these systems are much more energy efficient than we even thought–cutting the heat bill in half, plus having air conditioning in the summer, is great and even more so with these generous cash incentives,” said Randall Marchington, HVAC Mechanical Estimator, for Bend Heating.

There are huge opportunities to reduce energy use in manufactured homes which usually have very high operating expenses. They typically use 70% more energy per square foot than single-family homes and represent 10% of all residential buildings in Oregon.

The Environmental Center is partnering with Bend Heating to help reach community members with information about this program because it can provide savings of hundreds of dollars a year and in some cases a month.

Participants of this special program are also encouraged to sign up for free LED light bulbs in order to further reduce their electricity bills. LED lighting uses 80% less energy than standard light bulbs.

The Energy Challenge Installs LED Light Bulbs in 5,000th home in Central Oregon

The Energy Challenge, a program of The Environmental Center, is proud to announce they installed free LED light bulbs in the 5,000th home in Central Oregon. Over the past three years, the program has installed over 75,000 super-efficient LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs. Each bulb may seem like a small drop in the bucket, but cumulatively these bulbs will save Central Oregon residents over $13.8 Million, or an annual savings of almost $500,000.

Each Central Oregon household, including renters and owners, receive up to 16 free super-efficient LED light bulbs, which use 80% less energy than the incandescent bulbs being replaced. In addition, each household receives free water-saving fixtures that can help save energy by reducing the amount of hot water that needs to be heated — and of course, the amount of water consumed.

On October 4, Carmen Kinder and the three teenagers of her household were excited to be the 5,000th Central Oregon residents to receive free LED bulbs through The Energy Challenge. In addition to instant savings, participants are connected with resources to take their energy savings a step further through other opportunities such as heat pump water heaters, ductless heat pumps, and solar.

By participating in this program, individuals are making a difference in their community. The amount of energy saved each year with these light bulbs has an energy equivalent to what it takes to power 333 homes for one year.

“We hope this illustrates that even your smallest actions add up to something much bigger than yourself,” said Neil Baunsgard, Program Director of the Free LED Program. “When you’re making changes to save energy, however small, you’re part of a community-wide movement and you truly are making a difference.”

The program is available in Sisters, Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Madras, Tumalo, and surrounding areas. Residents are encouraged to sign up at TheEnergyChallenge.org/freebulbs or by calling at 541-385-6908 X26

This program is made possible through collaboration with Energy Trust of Oregon and Central Electric Cooperative.

Pollinators and Solar Farms

Pollinator populations are in decline in the United States due to environmental stressors including pesticides, parasites, diseases, and malnutrition.


Without appropriate vegetation and land management, the number of pollinators will continue to decrease, putting farms and crop yields dependent upon flowering plants at risks. 


At the same time, solar energy projects are being developed in agricultural areas.

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ClearPine Cottages-Green Tour Site #10

An innovative cottage development in Sisters

ClearPine Cottages- An innovative cottage development in Sisters

ClearPine’s site on the 2018 Green Tour is a 1004 sqft cottage called Blue Fescue, one of nine cottages in a development cluster. Situated in the center of ClearPine, a sustainable, Earth Advantage community. The ClearPine Cottage cluster was designed and constructed under a special code section jointly created by the Developer and the City of Sisters. The emphasis of the code is on land conservation, absence of cars, and a livable common space and community garden shared equally by the cottage residents. The ClearPine Cottages are situated directly adjacent to a new community park, and are within easy walking distance to all necessary services in downtown Sisters.

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Transforming our communities to a solar future

There are many reasons to thank Nikola Tesla when it comes to modern technology, had capitalistic greed not stood in his way, Tesla’s contributions to society could have gone significantly further. Despite his mental breakdowns later in life that were likely caused by detractors and capitalists who refuted his utopian visions for society, Tesla created a plethora of inventions, with the goal of transmitting energy to the world at little to no cost.

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Open the door to energy savings with EPS

Experience the beauty of energy efficiency at this year’s Central Oregon Green Tour. You’ll find homes built for quality, comfort and efficiency, with an EPS™ to prove it. EPS, brought to you by Energy Trust of Oregon, is an energy performance scoring system that gives you an inside look at the energy impact of a newly built home and how much it costs to operate.

With EPS, you can easily compare homes based on efficiency and find those that offer superior comfort and savings. Qualified homes are built to be at least 10 percent more energy efficient than required by current building codes. When you buy a home with an EPS, you know you’re getting a higher level of performance.

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Green Tour Sneak Peek #2

In addition to green homes, this year’s Green Tour will also showcase two commercial buildings that are leading the way to a clean energy future. Both happen to be nonprofit organizations and are demonstrating that energy efficiency and renewable energy is good for the bottom line.

The new Bend Science Station is a living laboratory for students to better understand the connection of technology, design, innovation and our environment.

The Bend Science Station is a zero energy building. This means that on an annual basis, the building will produce as much energy from the solar electric panels on the roof as it uses. They will pay $0 for electricity usage each year!

“Our motivations were also based on fiscal responsibility,” said Lisa Bermudez, Development Director. While the net-zero benefits of our new building were instructional compelling, the savings in operating costs and utility bills were equally considerable.”

Other cool features? You betcha! The building has a rooftop tower, which is not only a unique architectural feature, but also provides natural ventilation. This enables the team to passively control temperature (which complies with Zero Energy standards) AND provides specialized space for physics experiments.

Stop by on the Green Tour, Saturday, September 29th from 10:00-4:30 to learn even more! 

Green Tour Sneak Peek

This year, the Green Tour will showcase a whole spectrum of homes that are doing their part to save energy. Each year, we are fortunate to find homeowners, businesses, and builders who are willing to show us what they’ve been working on and share their ideas so that we can all find the energy-saving potential of our own homes and offices. We’ll be showcasing off-grid homes, zero energy homes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs),  homes that have undergone energy retrofits, and commercial buildings.

Here’s a sneak peek of just one of the zero energy homes:

Photo credit: Sunlight Solar Energy

  • Estimated Monthly Energy Costs: $0
  • Solar electric system: 8.4 kW
  • Estimated electricity production: 8,972 kWh
  • Estimated net electricity usage: -274 kWh
  • Carbon footprint: 0 tons/year (this home build to code would have a footprint of 81 tons/year)
  • Space heating: Electric heat pump
  • Water heating: Electric heat pump water heater
  • Water conservation: Low fixtures and toilet
  • Transportation: Electric vehicle (Tesla Model S)