Accessory Dwelling Units: A Sustainable Housing Solution

Guest post from Mary Hearn, ADU Enthusiast & Advocate

Learn more about the ADU Lab here

Allowing homeowners to add accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to their property is one of the most promising infill development strategies we have for increasing our supply of housing within the existing fabric of our community.

Many communities across the country are experiencing a severe housing crisis due to a lack of housing inventory that is causing prices to rise and leaving many residents completely priced out of their local markets.  This market reality tends to force large scale development to the urban fringe, which then increases traffic and greenhouse gas emissions as people travel to and from their homes and businesses.

There are numerous community advantages to infill-type developments such as ADUs.  They distribute less expensive housing throughout the city while having less visual impact on neighborhood character.  They can provide flexible space for a home office or on-site caregiver, housing for family members, or provide additional rental income to a homeowner.

Since these units tend to have a smaller footprint, ADUs by design contribute to a more sustainable and livable community.  We must begin to reimagine our urban landscape in a way that preserves and respects our Urban Growth Boundary and creates more affordable housing options close to common destinations like schools, jobs, parks, and retail.

By restricting urban sprawl and building in the core, we alleviate lengthy commuter traffic, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoid the added cost for new public infrastructure and maintenance, preserve open space and natural resources, and contribute to a healthier community.

If we as a community desire to thrive in good health and create a high quality of life for all of our residents, we must continue to advocate for more infill development that allows for a variety of housing types to meet a variety of family sizes and incomes.  ADUs are one small, but mighty solution.

Get involved with Bend’s climate future

The City of Bend is actively recruiting nine positions for the Environment and Climate Committee (ECC) until July 31, 2020.

During the June 17th, 2020 City Council meeting, Bend City Council voted to establish the Environment and Climate Committee. The committee’s primary focus is to provide input and recommendations to the City Council on topics related to environmental stewardship and to oversee implementation of the Community Climate Action Plan, adopted in December 2019.

This committee is a big deal! The ECC will help the City of Bend establish direction and implement sustainability goals and will help shape the future livability of our community. 

Committee expertise

The City is seeking individuals who have experience or expertise, professional or lived, in the following or other related subject matters: energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy efficient building, environmental justice, equity in environmental stewardship and sustainability, alternative transportation and mobility, energy policy, environmental policy, forestry, water resources, ecology, other life sciences, carbon emission reduction, and other related areas. They seek inclusive membership of diverse and varied perspectives and experiences.

This committee will help fulfill current and future Council goals and projects related to environmental stewardship, and provide a resource to Council when relevant community issues arise. The ECC will:

  • Develop recommendations and build partnerships to advance implementation of the Community Climate Action Plan;
  • Provide input in the City’s review and development of plans, ordinances, actions, and policies as relevant
  • Provide advisory input to the City Council during Council goal setting and budgeting processes; and
  • Provide input on adopted Council goals as they relate to natural resources and the environment.

Commitment

This will be a permanent City committee just like the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board (BEDAB) or the Affordable Housing Committee, among others. Nine members will be appointed to the Environment and Climate Committee with initial terms being two or four years so that the committee doesn’t replace all of its members at once. Subsequent terms will be four years. 

Committee members will be expected to actively participate in monthly meetings, generally 1.5 – 2 hours. Committee members will determine the regular schedule that works best for the members.

Application

The Advisory Committee application is available at bendoregon.gov/committees. Applications are accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, July 31, 2020. 

For questions on serving on the Environment and Climate Committee, please contact Cassie Lacy at 541-323-8587 or .  

Information about the committee is available at bendoregon.gov/sustainability.

Welcome to your new energy efficient home

Tips for buying an energy efficient home

The home buying process is, well, a process.   It’s important to have conversations about efficiency during the homebuying process and not just after so that you can find an energy efficient home–or at least on that can be upgraded for efficiency. These simple tips can save a lot of energy further down the road.

Work with an Earth Advantage Broker or GREEN designee

Earth Advantage is a nonprofit organization based here in the NW that works to accelerate the adoption of sustainable homes. EA Brokers are green designated real estate professionals who have successfully completed in-depth training and gained comprehensive knowledge on the health, comfort, durability, and energy efficiency benefits of high performance homes in their market. They can help you discover green features; recommend home upgrades, incentives, and rebates; provide information on solar; and so much more.  You can find a list of accredited professionals here.

The National Association of REALTORS also has a GREEN designation. You can find those professionals here.

Look for key (in)efficiency features

Keep an eye out for features that might give you an indication if you have found an energy efficient home–or one that might need some improvements. (Thank you to Realtor Rick Sams for these tips from his April 2020 Power Hour presentation).

  • Age of the home: Homes built before 1992 were required by code to have less insulation. Insulation can be upgraded but it is an important distinction to be aware of.
  • Outside noise: This can be an indication that insulation and air leakage may need attention. Check windows and doors as big culprits.
  • Windows and doors: How well do the seal? Do they rattle?
  • Craftsmanship: Details in the home may be an indication of overall building quality.
  • Water heater: Make sure to take note of how old the water heater is and the make and model. You can look up the efficiency of the water heater if you can’t readily find the EnergyGuide sticker on the unit. If the water heater is electric, one of the biggest energy-saving upgrades you can make is to switch to a heat pump water heater.
  • HVAC: Is the home heated with gas or electricity and what is the efficiency of the furnace/heating system? If the heat pump is more than 10 years old or the furnace is more than 15 years old, an upgrade could save you up to 20% on heating costs. Beyond saving energy, newer systems maintain better indoor air quality. See below for more info on electrically heated homes.
  • Appliances: New appliances have more than just curb appeal, if they are Energy Star certified, they can save A LOT of energy.

Know what you can and can’t fix

This list could be a lengthy list so here is just one example (your Earth Advantage Broker will be able to help you pick out more obstacles and/or opportunities)! From an efficiency perspective, some heating systems are a lot harder to upgrade than others.  For almost all homes with electric resistance heat (baseboards or cadets), getting a more efficient heating system is going to be at the top of the efficiency to do list.

In a home that doesn’t already have ducts, a ductless heat pump is a cost-effective upgrade towards an energy efficient home. However, you will want to take note of the floor plan of the home. A segmented home can make it difficult to heat the living space with a central head. Many retrofitted homes will have a central head in the main living space then use backup heat in the bedrooms and bathrooms. This is a significant boost to efficiency but can require you to still rely heavily on inefficient backup heat in many rooms. Maybe you don’t mind a cool bedroom–that’s great! You just can’t heat some homes in their entirety with a DHP so it’s important to know what your needs are, what goals you have for the overall efficiency of your home, and recognize if it’s going to be hard or costly to put in a more efficient heating system.

Consider the energy efficient home’s solar potential

You’ll really be kicking yourself in a few years if you find out your home simply isn’t a good fit for solar. Home orientation, trees, chimneys, and roof features like dormers can limit your home’s solar potential. If you want to add solar now or later, a southern exposure is preferred, followed by east and then west-facing roofs. Depending on the size of your system, you’re going to want at least 200 sq ft of unobstructed space. You can call a local solar contractor and have them virtually look at the roof to assess its solar potential. If you’re serious about solar, or the home, you can have them come out to do a free assessment.

Find out if the home has an energy certification or an energy score

 

Charging an electric car at home

What does my house need to charge an Electric Car?

Whether you already own an electric car (EV) or are considering one in the future, when you are looking at new homes it is important to consider what it takes to charge an electric car at home. Depending on how the house is set up, it could limit the speed or cost of installing EV charging.

When you look at a new home it is important to look for two things: Where you plan on parking your car, and where the electricity will come from to charge. From these observations you can estimate the cost to install Level 2 electric car charging and what your options are. See”Other ways to charge” below because you may not necessarily need Level 2 charging capacity at home. 

Great charging

Many new homes are built with the ability to charge an electric car. If you don’t see a charger on the wall, take a look and see if you see a wall outlet that looks like a dryer or RV outlet. This is likely pre-wired for you to be able to plug in your current or future EV.  Many vehicles such as the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 come standard with a EV charger that can plug directly into these NEMA 14-50 outlets. You are good to go!

Good charging

If a home has an electric panel within 10-20 feet of where you plan to park, you are in luck! You just need an electrician to come out and connect a charger or 220v outlet for you to plug in. The next step would be to see if there is going to be an additional 32 amp capacity in your electric panel to add the charger. If there is, then an install is as simple as running a new dryer plug and should cost between $400 – $700 to install. A more detailed set of instructions on determining your electricity can be found here.

OK charging

Don’t worry if you have a longer distance to your panel or an undersized panel. Longer electric runs may cost a little more, and an undersized panel may need upgrading.  You can still install an EV charger.

Other ways to charge an electric car

Many people don’t bother installing a dedicated EV charger for Level 2 charging. If you don’t regularly drive over 50 miles per day, all you need is access to a regular wall outlet for Level 1 charging. It’s best to have your outlet within 15 feet of where you plan to charge. If your home doesn’t have a garage, you can still run your charging cable from an outlet on the outside of your home. 

Another great option is encouraging your workplace to offer charging where you could get some regular miles added to the “tank” and effectively double your daily range.

Don’t forget about incentives

Check with your utility for incentives for EV charging. Through 2020 you can also get a federal tax credit for EV charger installs.

Please reach out to Neil at or call him at 541-385-6908 x12 for more information.

5 ways to save energy in your kitchen while quarantined

Don’t let social distancing get the best of your energy budget! These are some tried-and-true ways to save energy that are extra relevant while you’re quarantined at home. Whether it’s just you or your whole family, there are a lot more meals happening in our own kitchens than ever before.

1. Use your dishwasher.

We are using WAY MORE dishes at our house right now. Using a dishwasher instead of washing by hand reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50%. This can be a heated debate in many families so if you want a bit more info, you can get a summary of a recent study in this story.

2. Scrape. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes.

Now that we’re using the dishwasher more often, let’s do it right.  Rinsing your dishes uses more water and energy—enough to really add up over the lifetime of your dishwasher. Not rinsing can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3%.  Modern dishwashers and detergents are meant to attach to the little bits of food left on the dishes to work properly.

3. Turn off the dry cycle on your dishwasher.

Now that you’re using your dishwasher, let’s take it one step further and make this action save even more energy. Turning off the dry cycle on your dishwasher alone can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 11%. We just open up the door, pull out the racks and let them air dry (after our toddler has gone to bed otherwise the clean dishes end up all over the living room floor).

4. Cook smart.

This could probably be a post all on its own, but here are a few of my personal favorites:

    • Get creative and try to use the oven for a few things while it’s on or even use the same pot! If I have managed to plan ahead, I roast veggies for tomorrow’s recipe while making dinner tonight. I love this butternut squash macaroni and cheese recipe that has you boil some veggies in the same water that you then make your pasta in.
    • Turn off the burner or the oven a few minutes early. This obviously won’t work for all recipes, but those few minutes per session really start to add up over the course of a month.
    • Only boil as much water as you need. Your habits can be as important in reducing the amount of energy used to boil water as what device you’re using to do the task. So when you’re going to make that next cup of tea, make sure you only boil enough to go in your mug.

5. Turn down your water heater.

You’re washing your hands more than you ever have in your life, making more meals in your kitchen than you ever dreamed possible (we know your dishes are going in the dishwasher, but you still have lots of other odds and ends!), and hiding away in the steamy shower to escape your kids and partners for a few minutes. All-in-all, you’re probably using a ton of hot water right now. Make sure that you’re not making your water heater work overtime with settings that are too high. 120 degrees is the recommended temperature. The higher the temperature of the water in the tank, the greater difference with the surrounding temperature, and thus, the greater the heat loss. You can Google specific instructions for your water heater. Or you can find general YouTube tutorials for electric waters here and gas water heaters here.

 

4 things you need to know about the EV Charging Tax Credit

In a late December session, congress passed a bill that extended the electric vehicle charging tax credit that will cover 30% of the cost for residential or workplace charging. Because the EV charging tax credit got passed right at the end of 2019, there has been very little information available for you to file your 2019 taxes. Here are the details that may help you get a bigger tax refund, or help you afford EV charging in 2020.

Please consult with your tax professional to see how these credits apply to you. This information does not constitute tax advice and cannot be used to avoid tax penalties.

  • Tax credits are available for EV charger hardware and installation costs.

Install costs can account for the majority of the total cost of installing EV charging especially for commercial installations. This importantly covers both components on charging costs.

  • 30% tax credit up to $1,000 for residential and $30,000 for commercial.

You use form 8911 to apply for the Federal EV charging tax credit. It covers 30% of the costs with a max of $1,000 credit for residents and $30,000 tax credit for commercial installs.

  • You can still apply for installs as early as 2017.

Did you install charging in  2017 or 2018? Not to worry, you are still eligible for the tax credit! It retroactively applies for installs in 2017 and doesn’t expire until the end of 2020. If your install happened before 2019 you will have to file an amended return to claim your charging credit.

  • Other business EV charging incentives are available.

We are seeing EV charging pop up all over Oregon. With the 30% Federal Tax credit and many other incentives and grants available from utilities and municipalities, 2020 is a great year to install. The list of opportunities for funding is always changing and we will do our best to keep you up to date. Right now, there are currently Level 2 chargers available for interested workplaces in Central Oregon as well as grants for installs in Oregon Electric Community Co-op Territories.

Please reach out to Neil at or call him at 541-385-6908 x12 for more information.

Going Solar in 2020

New pots of money mean growing opportunities for solar access

In 2020, just about everything we knew about solar incentives has been shaken up. Here’s a quick overview of what is happening on the solar coaster this year.


Oregon Solar and Solar + Storage Rebate Program

HB 2618​ (2019) created a new solar and solar plus storage rebate program at the Oregon Department of Energy which launched in 2020. The program issues rebates for solar electric systems and paired solar + storage systems for residential customers and low-income service providers in Oregon.​

There are three separate tracks for this program: residential, low-moderate income residential, and low-income service providers. See below for definitions.

Rebate Amount
  1. Residential Projects
    • Up to 40% of the net cost, capped at $5,000 for solar, and $2,500 for energy storage
  2. Residential Low-Moderate Income Projects
    • Up to 60% of net cost, capped at $5,000 and $2,500 for energy storage.
  3. Low-Income Service Providers
    • Low-income service providers: Up to 50% of net cost, capped at $30,000 for solar, and $15,000 for energy storage
To Qualify
  1. Installed on real property in Oregon
  2. Installed by an ODOE-approved contractor
  3. Solar + storage systems must be purchased together by the same approved contractor
  4. Total Solar Resource Fraction of 75% or greater (your contractor will approve this)
Definitions

Residential Low-Moderate Income Projects: The owner of the property is eligible for one or more income-limited programs offered by state or local public agencies or nonprofit organization’s. ODOE will verify eligibility with the administering agencies upon receipt of the application

Low-Income Service Providers. Organizations eligible as “low-income service providers” include:

  1. Developers/owners of affordable multifamily housing that are eligible for public assistance administered by Oregon Housing & Community Services;
  2. A community service organization (public, tribal, or a 501(c) nonprofit) whose primary purpose is to offer health, dental, social, financial, energy conservation, or other assistive services to households below 100% of the state median income by household size;
  3. A tribal or local government entity, such as a city, county, or school district that uses public buildings to provide services to low- or moderate-income individuals, or to provide emergency shelter and/or communications in disaster situations.

Energy Trust of Oregon

Energy Trust of Oregon provides a cash incentive through qualified trade allies to utility customers of Pacific Power and PGE. There are two separate tracks for Energy Trust incentives.

Cash incentive amount
  1. Standard
    • $0.30/W up to $2,400
  2. Solar Within Reach
    • $1.50/W up to $9,000
To Qualify
  1. Installed by an Energy Trust of Oregon Trade Ally
  2. Total Solar Resource Fraction of 75% or greater
  3. See below for Solar Within Reach eligibility criteria
Definitions

Solar Within Reach: You must own a single-family home, manufactured home, floating home, condo or multifamily residence that is either an attached side-by-side unit or a duplex, triplex or fourplex. You must also meet Energy Trust’s income qualifications listed below.


Federal Tax Credit

Also known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

Tax Credit Amount
  • 26% of the net cost (after ETO and state rebate, if applicable)
To Qualify
  • You must have a federal tax liability
  • System must be installed by December 31st, 2020 (then it drops to 22%)

What does this mean for a low-moderate-income household?

+ Up to $5,000 incentive from state rebate

+ Up to $9,000 cash incentive from Energy Trust of Oregon

$14,000 off a solar installation (+Federal Tax Credit, if applicable)

DC Fast Charging in Madras Oregon

CCS Charging comes to Madras

Central Oregon now has it’s first functional CCS combo charging thanks to Pacific Power’s installation of 4 DCFC stations located at the Madras Chamber of Commerce. With Madras sitting in an important highway junction it has been well suited to offer DC fast charging (DCFC) for EV drivers traveling through Central and Eastern Oregon.

Here is a guide to the different options in town:

Chamber of Commerce (Pacific Power’s installation on Chargepoint Network)

  • 4 x 50kw DC fast charging stations, each with dual heads to offer either CCS combo or Chademo style plugs to fit all modern EV’s (Teslas will need a Chademo to Tesla adapter.)
  • A double head J1772 to offer up to 7.2KW Level 2 charging.
  • This is on the Chargepoint network so the Chargepoint app, fob, or phone number can be used to charge.
  • DC Fast Charging- 17.7¢/ per minute off-peak, 28.3¢/ minute on-peak; Level 2 Charging- 0.6¢/minute off-peak, 1.4 ¢/minute on-peak ; On-Peak Period Summer- Monday through Friday 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; On-Peak Period Winter Monday through Friday 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • If you wanted to add 50 miles of range to an average EV it would cost $3.82  off peak and $6.11 on Peak with DCFC and Level 2 charging would cost $0.77 off peak and $1.80 on peak.

West Coast Electric Highway (Dairy Queen on Webasto Network)

  • 1 x 50kw DC Fast Charger with a Chademo charging head only (works on older EV’s and Teslas with the Chademo to Tesla adapter.)
  • 1 x Single head J-1772 for up to 7.2 KW Level 2 charging.
  • As a part of the West Coast Electric Highway operated by Webasto. A Webasto key fob, phone call, or Pay with Plugshare will activate a charge.
  • Monthly plan is $19.99 or pay per charge at $7.50/session for DCFC and $4.00/session at Level 2

If you have any questions, please reach out to Neil at or call him at 541-385-6908 X12.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips for Buying an EV at the end of the year

December is a great month to take advantage of the Federal EV Tax Credit.

If you have been on the fence about purchasing an EV, now might be the perfect time. End-of-year deals and the federal ev tax credit may be good enough to make the move. It is snowy outside and we love being able to pre-warm the cabin of the car in the garage with no emissions or idling!

Here are two reasons why December is a great time to buy one of the many EV’s available today:

Tax credit can reduce tax liability.

  • The Federal EV tax credit is still available and ranges from $1,875 to $7,500 depending on the vehicle. Buying in December means you can take full advantage of the tax credit as soon as you file your taxes!
  • As a reminder, if you don’t have a large enough tax liability, you can always lease the vehicle as a work around. The dealer will take the tax credit and reduce the base cost of the car. At that point you can continue to keep the lease, or buy out the remainder of the lease.

Tesla and GM loses their federal ev tax credit in 2020.

  • Although the tax credit is still in full effect for most automakers, Tesla and GM have hit the threshold where the amount they get to offer is reduced each quarter. This means that Tesla vehicles delivered after Jan 1st 2020 are no longer eligible for the EV tax credit.
  • For GM’s Chevy Bolt they are also in the ramp down of tax credits but are a quarter behind, so they will keep their $1,875 tax credit until the end of Q1 2020.
  • No other manufacture has hit the 200,000 vehicle threshold so they are all still offering the full $7,500 credit on new electric vehicles. You can see how close each manufacture is to their 200,000 threshold here

If you have any questions, please reach out to Neil at or call him at 541-385-6908 X12.

 

 

Welcome to your new energy efficient home

Common misconceptions about the Home Energy Score

For more background on what the Home Energy Score is, visit our previous blog post What is the Home Energy Score and why is it in the CCAP?

Why Home Energy Scores?

The Oregon Department of Energy’s 2018 Biennial Energy Report took a deep dive into energy consumers in our state. Unfortunately, Oregon continues to see challenges faced by energy-burdened consumers. An Oregonian is considered “energy burdened” when their household’s energy-related expenditures exceed 6% of their income. In Deschutes County, 15-29% of residents earning 200% or below the Federal Poverty Level are energy burdened. Home energy scores can help consumers better understand a home’s energy efficiency, and identify simple home improvements that can mean big savings for their energy bills. (Taken from Oregon Department of Energy website).

Despite there being an obvious need for more awareness about energy use and energy efficient housing options, there has been a lot push-back on the proposal for a Home Energy Score policy for Bend. There are a lot of common misconceptions about the program–here are a few common concerns we’ve heard about HES. 

Homebuyers aren’t asking for HES. They don’t think this is important.

Just because buyers aren’t currently asking for this, doesn’t mean they don’t care—it means that they just don’t know about it yet. Considering energy use in the lifetime costs of homeownership has historically not been something that has been considered when buying a home. This is an important piece of the conversation of homeownership that has been missing that has left many in Bend searching for solutions to reduce $500/month winter energy bills. For those that do appropriately factor energy costs into their budget, think of the extra buying power that homebuyers could have when utility bills are reduced by hundreds of dollars each month.

Requiring an HES slows down the home-selling/buying process.

There is no evidence that energy disclosure disrupts the sale process. In Austin, where home energy audits have been required for ten years, realtors say the policy has not harmed the market in any discernible way. These types of policies usually require that a HES is required at the time of listing, not at the time of sale so it does not slow down the closing process. The actual audit to get a score takes about 1 hour. Timing to generate the report will vary depending on the assessor and could take a few days—this will be important ask when you are scheduling the assessment so you choose your assessor accordingly.

There aren’t enough assessors to do the work

It is true that there currently only a handful of businesses in Bend that could perform the audit to give a home an HES. However, it is something that home inspectors can easily get training in and expand what they offer for services. There are also currently businesses that verify buildings for new construction energy efficiency programs that could easily perform HES assessments on existing homes and many will be required to be trained in HES to be in compliance with the programs they currently work with. In Portland, new businesses have formed to meet the rising demand for services.  Earth Advantage has created a “Roadmap” to becoming an assessor that outlines the process for becoming approved to issue HES.

Energy audits are expensive

There are varying levels of information that can be collected during an energy audit or energy assessment. It is estimated to take about 1 hour to collect the 40 points of data that are needed to generate a score. It is estimated that the cost of an HES audit will be about $200, and we expect the price to go down after HES goes into effect. In Austin, where audits are required, the cost of an audit quickly fell to $125 as demand for audits rose. In the Portland market, audits are averaging about $150.

HES makes housing unaffordable

  • Knowledge is power, and home energy scores give home buyers more knowledge about the costs of operating the home they are buying. Energy costs can be a substantial monthly expense, especially for low-income households. You wouldn’t buy a car without knowing the miles per gallon. HES puts homebuyers in the drivers’ seat by revealing the full costs of home ownership.
  • Without HES, home energy performance remains hidden from both sellers and buyers – which doesn’t benefit anyone. Hiding home energy information certainly won’t make housing more affordable and isn’t smart policy. In fact, we think this “heads in the sand” approach is especially harmful to lower-income homebuyers, who stand to benefit the most from greater knowledge about the costs of home ownership.
  • The vast majority of home sellers will be able to afford the cost of a home energy audit. For those that cannot, the City will work identify ways to cover the upfront cost of the assessment.
  • HES’s benefits to all homebuyers, and to the community’s climate action goals, far outweigh any risks. For the small number of home sellers that may have difficulty complying with HES, exemptions and assistance programs can be developed to alleviate the hardship for those residents. On the whole, HES has substantial benefits to homebuyers and to the community as a whole.
  • Housing affordability is primarily a function of supply and demand. Bend faces a supply shortage. Home energy scores are information policy that do not affect the supply of housing.
  • In harder economic times, HES will have even more benefit to homebuyers. When times are tough, it is more important to understand the full cost of owning a home.

The Home Energy Score unfairly impacts poor people who may own sub-standard housing and their homes will be worth less on the open market

  • It’s not true that all lower-income homeowners will receive lower home energy scores. Home energy scores take many factors into account, including home size and total energy use. In fact, it’s bigger, luxury homes with high energy consumption (think hot tub and air conditioning!) that are likely to receive lower scores.
  • Getting a home energy score will help lower-income borrowers access special mortgage products, helping them finance energy efficiency improvements. The scoring tool we propose to use (US DOE’s Home Energy Score) gives low-income borrowers access to special home energy loans, that will help them improve their home’s energy performance.
    The Bend real estate market is enjoying unprecedented appreciation. Low-income homeowners have benefited from this too.

These kinds of carbon policies don’t really lower emissions

  • The policy addresses residential energy use, the biggest source of sector-based emissions in Bend, according to the Community Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory.
  • This policy introduces information that is critical for buyers and renters alike to take action on their energy use. We don’t know what we don’t know and with currently energy consumption and costs masked, most residents have no idea that there is room for improvement in their home.
  • This is a long game. This is market transformation that uses a market solution, not a prescriptive regulatory one (we aren’t requiring that energy efficiency improvements be made—just that the information is supplied). It won’t happen overnight, but it will accelerate voluntary energy efficiency upgrades in the residential market over time.
  • Early indications from other communities that have scoring policies are that upgrades do follow disclosure. In Austin, as a result of energy disclosures, six percent of homes undertook energy upgrades. Commercial disclosure policies in NYC and SF are starting to show reductions in energy consumption.

If you think Bend needs a Home Energy Score policy, we encourage you to tell City Council that you think it should be included in the plan. Learn more about writing to City Council and giving public comment at a meeting here.