Clean Up Your Furnace Filter’s 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.

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.

Rays the roof–with solar, of course!

 Calling all local businesses – check out this new solar incentive program!

Rays the Roof Workshop

Together with local businesses, we know we can make a difference in the amount of energy that our community uses. That’s why The Bend Energy Challenge is launching a special program to bring Power to the People.

Join our team of business energy heroes and your business can sign up to host a “Rays the Roof” workshop to share
solar information with your employees and co-workers. The best part? We’ll review incentives covering up to 70% of the cost of a system AND a special exclusive discount of 15% off the net cost up to $750! That’s some serious potential to produce a lot of clean energy.

In order to get the most from these events, Rays to Roof workshops should be planned for 30 – 45 minutes. We can come to you during a staff meeting or we can schedule a lunch & learn. You pick the time that works for your business and we’ll be there. Email Kim with questions and to schedule your workshop today.

Interested in hosting a Rays the Roof workshop for your green team, civic group, book club, friends, church group? We’ll do that too!  Email Kim with questions and to schedule your workshop.

Indoor water-saving tips from the pros

Tips on the best ways to save water indoors from the City of Bend Water Conservation Manager

In Bend, our water and sewer rates were recently modernized and we now we pay for every gallon of water we use. Our sewer rate is also connected to how much water we use and is calculated based on our average winter indoor water use. That means that any water saved indoors saves on the cost of that water and shows up as savings on your monthly sewer bill.

So, what should you do if you are going to do just one thing to save water indoors?  On average, approximately 24 percent of indoor water use is used for toilet flushing.  This is the single largest use of water inside most residential homes.  If you’re in a home built before 1993, you may have outdated toilets that flush at a rate of 3.5 gallons per flush (GPF) or more.  Cha-ching! Now we’re talking about some big savings!

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Buying a new appliance? There’s a cert for that.

Are you an Energy Star? 

Did you know that there are Energy Star certifications for more than 38 common household appliances? Well, now you know so the next time you are thinking about buying something new, make sure you are checking for those Energy Star  certifications. Take a look at the Energy Star appliances below to get more information and see which ones you can replace in your own home or visit the Energy Start website for more information.

Energy Star Appliance

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Keepin’ your cool when picking out your new fridge

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When choosing a refrigerator not all are created equally, or efficiently. This is one household appliance that can take up a big chunk of your home’s energy use. You can turn off or unplug most of your appliances to cut back on energy costs, but the refrigerator is a different story. In order to keep food cold, the refrigerator has to run constantly, which can really add to your monthly energy bill.

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The low-down on the good deal that is solar energy

I hear solar’s a good deal. But what does that really mean? 

First of all, let’s get clear on what incentives are out there for you to take advantage of because 70% off sounds too good to be true. 

Cash Incentives

Cash incentives reduce the up-front, or out-of-pocket cost of your solar installation.

  • Pacific Power

If you are a Pacific Power customer, you may qualify for an Energy Trust of Oregon cash incentive of $0.75 per watt, up to a maximum of $6,600, which is immediately taken off of the total cost of your system. That means less cash that you must come up with the install your solar system. This cash incentive will decrease throughout 2016. All our local solar contractor partners are Trade Allies with the Energy Trust of Oregon and will be able to tell give you the most up-to-date incentive amount.

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Solar net metering

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When you install solar on your home, your net meter is what allows your utility provider to keep track of the energy flowing to and from the electric grid. Net metering is what allows you to be billed for the excess energy from your solar system that you supply to the grid as well as the energy that you consume beyond what your solar installation is producing.

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Go ahead–dive into an energy assessment!

So what exactly is this assessment?  Sometimes they’re called home performance audit s, which doesn’t really make them sound fun.  Or perhaps you’re worried that making all the energy upgrades may be too costly and not in this year’s budget?

Well rest assured no one, especially your home performance contractor, wants to scare you off. An energy assessment is a great tool to help you identify areas of improvements for your home and most importantly help you prioritize the energy saving improvements in a logical and systematic fashion.

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Programming your savings

When used correctly, programmable thermostats can be a boon for energy savings during heating and cooling seasons.

General guidelines are that you should be scheduling your thermostat to be lowered when you are at work and at night.The Department of Energy recommends that you set your thermostat to 68°F while you’re home and 60 – 62°F while you are away and at night. A great goal is to hit a setback point for 8 hours or more. The real question is: How low can you go? (General rule of thumb is stay above 55 to avoid pipes freezing).

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