Green Tour Seeking Applications

The 19th annual Green tour will highlight positive solutions to save energy in Central Oregon and we want you to be part of it!

The Energy Challenge is seeking applicants to showcase their homes and buildings on the 2019 Green Tour on Saturday, September 28th. The tour highlights innovation in sustainable design while still demonstrating how everyday people can save energy at home and at work.

The Green Tour highlights both residential and commercial projects and will bring awareness to the opportunities that exist to build energy savings into the design of new buildings as well as how our existing building stock can be retrofitted to be more efficient.

This year the tour is seeking properties that put an emphasis on getting to zero energy use, utilizing solar plus storage, efficient ADUs, or sites that have installed or are planning for electric vehicle charging.

Home or commercial energy retrofits are an equally important part of the tour because they allow us to make a more tangible connection to the kinds of upgrades that we can make in our very own homes and offices.

Designers, builders, realtors, home performance contractors, solar contractors, and homeowners are all encouraged to apply to put a building on the tour.  Those who are interested in applying are invited to fill out a quick and easy preliminary application by Friday, July 12th.

The tour will take place on September 28th, 2019 from 10:00-4:30.

4 Spring Cleaning Tips That Can Save You Energy Too

  1. Clean your refrigerator coils. Before your fridge starts to work extra hard in the heat of summer, give it a leg up by cleaning the condenser coils that are underneath your fridge. We are known for lots of dirt and pet hair here in Central Oregon which can build up on the coils. When they get clogged, they don’t release heat like they’re supposed to and end up working overtime. This uses more energy and can shorten the life of your appliance. You can look up how to clean your specific fridge – but for most, you will just need to unplug your fridge, remove the grill plate at the bottom, and use a coil brush to brush the coils. When you’re done, make sure to sweep or use a vacuum crevice tool to pick up any debris you knocked off the coils under your fridge.
  2. Clean your dryer vent. While you’re at it, let’s get your dryer up to snuff too. By doing so, you’re also reducing a major fire risk in your home. The US Fire Administration reports that more than 2,900 home fires are started by clothes dryers each year. The removable lint trap in your dryer does a great job of collecting lint and other debris from your clothes, but it does not catch everything—especially if you’re not cleaning it out after each use! After you’ve taken out the lint trap filter, vacuum the lint in the trap housing. Next up, you’ll need a dryer vent cleaning kit. This is important because you’ll need a long flexible-handled brush to clean the rest of your ductwork. Get step by step instructions from ACE here.
  3. Dust off your ceiling fan. Flip the switch to make sure it’s going the right direction for summer. (In the summer, you want a counter clockwise direction.) While you’re at it, make sure you’re turning off your ceiling fans when there aren’t people in the room. Remember fans cool people, not rooms.
  4. Change your furnace filter. Can we let you in on a dirty little secret? You should be changing your furnace filter every three months, and most of us are failing miserably at this. This is super important to maintain the indoor air quality in your home, to keep your furnace operating efficiently, and to prolong the life of your HVAC system. Get step by step instructions here.

Test Drive an Electric Vehicle April 20-May 5

Now is a great time to test drive an electric vehicle in Central Oregon!

For every EV you test drive between April 20 – May 5, 2019, you’ll be rewarded with one entry to our raffle….

One lucky winner will get to choose a prize: A Nest Thermostat E or $150 Downtown Dollars.

[Note: This was extended one weekend in order for more folks to check out the new Kia Niro that just arrived at the Bend dealership.]

Take the time to check out several EV options available in Central Oregon, ask questions, and learn how an EV could fit into your lifestyle. You can test drive a fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle at the following participating dealerships:

Raffle drawing will be held on May 6, 2019 and the winner will be announced on The Environmental Center’s Facebook page.

Action Alert: Think Global, Act Local

A letter from our Executive Director, Mike Riley.

A simple but powerful idea guides our work here at The Environmental Center: Local action can make a world of difference. I’m reminded of its importance as we enter the new year and a new season of decision-making by our elected leaders.

Climate change is the environmental issue of our day. And while action to reduce climate pollution is needed at all levels, we have the most control over what happens at the state and local level. In 2019, our elected officials have some important opportunities to take meaningful steps forward to reduce Bend and Oregon’s climate pollution. I hope you’ll take time to remind them that you support bold action.

In Salem, the Oregon Legislature is poised to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill. The bill would set a cap on climate pollution, require permits to emit such pollution, sell the permits through an auction, and reinvest the proceeds in activities that move Oregon to a low-carbon, clean energy future. These activities could include energy efficiency improvements and solar power for low-income families, electric vehicle infrastructure, soil and water conservation, and more.

Here in Bend, our City Council will be adopting a new transportation plan later this year that will guide walking, driving, biking and transit investments for the next 20 years. Our City Councilors will have the opportunity to invest not only in roads, but also in building a low-stress bike network across the whole community; completing our sidewalk systems in existing and new neighborhoods; and improving transit service. They’ll have the opportunity to invest in making our streets safer for all users: drivers, bikers, walkers and people with disabilities.

But none of this will happen unless our elected leaders hear from you. They need to know that you value state and local action that will lead to a cool, clean atmosphere and safe streets that get people out of their cars. Why? Because it’s good for people, it’s good for the economy and it’s good for the environment. It will ensure a better future for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

So as we enter the new year, think global and act local by making your voice heard. Communicate with our elected leaders. Tell them what you care about, and encourage them to take bold action.

Contact information for all Oregon State Senators by District.

Contact information for all Oregon State Representatives by District.

Not sure who represents you? Find out here.

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.


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.

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.

Energy Challenge Installs Free LED Light Bulbs in 700 Redmond Homes

The Energy Challenge team is excited to announce they have installed free LED light bulbs in 700 homes in Redmond! Over the past three years, The Energy Challenge has installed over 75,000 super-efficient LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs in over 5,000 homes in Central Oregon. 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.

This free program connects Central Oregon residents, homeowners and renters alike, with resources to save energy instantly. As soon as you switch a light on, you are already using 80% less energy than a conventional light bulb. Efficient water-saving fixtures can also help save energy by reducing the amount of hot water that needs to be heated, and of course, the amount of water consumed. 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 power systems.

Deanna Nielsen and her two daughters were the lucky Redmond residents living in the 700th home to get the free LEDs. By installing these bulbs and water-saving fixtures in their home, Deanna and other participants are helping their community by saving energy – which helps to prevent the need for more power plants. The amount of energy saved each year with these light bulbs has an energy equivalent 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 Manager of The Energy Challenge. “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 scheduled to run through the end of December 2018 and is available in Bend, Redmond, Prineville, Madras and Tumalo. Residents are encouraged to sign up online or by calling at 541-385-6908 X26. This program is made possible through collaboration with Energy Trust of Oregon and Central Electric Cooperative.

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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