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

 

Local Realtors share their take on the Home Energy Score

Proposed Mandate Will Shine a Light on Home Energy Use

Submitted by: Abbie + Rick Sams, licensed brokers, Team Sams at Fred Real Estate Group

The City of Bend’s Climate Action Steering Committee has been diligently working on the Community Climate Action Plan, CCAP, which will help guide the City and the community in pursuit of the goals to reduce fossil fuel use by 40 percent by the year 2030 and by 70 percent by the year 2050.

A mandate of the CCAP is to implement a Home Energy Score, HES, program that would require every home that goes on the market to provide a home energy assessment and score which is based on energy use and efficiency. The scoring system was developed in national laboratories by the US Department of Energy, DOE, and is described by the DOE as “an easy-to-produce rating designed to help homeowners and homebuyers gain useful information about a home’s energy performance.” The Home Energy Score uses a simple 1-to-10 scale, where 10 represents the most energy efficient homes.

Some concerns about requiring a mandatory score have arisen and include high assessment costs, unreliable test data, long turn-around times disrupting real estate sales and lack of qualified assessors in our area. These concerns deserve some clarification. In cities such as Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas where this mandate has already been implemented, they’re finding that home inspectors can easily become certified and many individuals have seen this as an opportunity to create new jobs. In Portland where the number of HES assessors has increased the costs of
the audit has been driven down to on average $150 to $175. Concerning the burden of extra costs for sellers, HES exemptions are available to homeowners who are experiencing financial hardships. The in-home assessment can be completed in an hour and turnaround time for results is short and can often be received the same day. Since the score must be completed prior to the home being listed for sale, there is no disruption to the closing process or timeline. The score provides tangible results based on objective data collection which isn’t dependent on weather conditions or temperatures and any human error mistakes are limited due to quality control checkpoints within the software.

Consumers are already accustomed to seeing nutritional information labels on their food, the yellow Energy Guide on appliances and MPG and emissions identified on new vehicles. These labels allow consumers to understand what is in a product and how the product will perform. The HES scorecard provides a snapshot of the home’s current energy performance and allows a home buyer to understand how efficient the home is while also highlighting recommendations on how to cost-effectively improve a home’s energy score and lower home energy costs. The seller is never required to complete any upgrades to their home but for consumers this energy disclosure will provide transparency and easily understood data, protecting the buyers “Right to Know” and helping them make an even more informed decision with their home purchase and a direct, realistic comparison between homes.

Mandatory transparency, not mandatory change

Local Realtors share their take on the Home Energy Score

Submitted by: Mike Tucker, licensed broker 

My name is Mike Tucker. I’m a real estate broker with Windemere Real Estate. I’ve been working in the Central Oregon market for 5 years. I participated in the Working Groups that the Climate Action Steering Committee used to solicit feedback from stakeholders and community members. I am also an Earth Advantage advisor at the state level and have spoken personally with the Portland City staff who oversee the mandatory home scoring program. 

I support the Climate Action Plan as it was submitted, and especially the creation of a mandatory Home Energy Score Program.

There is a problem though. A problem I haven’t heard either side of this issue mention. The home energy improvements we are hoping builders and homeowners will implement are largely hidden from view and home features hidden from view are difficult to place a value on. Unlike granite countertops, performance upgrades aren’t seen to by home buyers. This is a market-wide problem and until recently energy upgrades have been challenging to measure and price. Not only are hidden upgrades difficult for Realtors and Appraisers to value they are challenging for us to understand. If these upgrades cannot be valued by agents and buyers, builders and homeowners are not going to be reimbursed for these improvements.

The good news is that technology is allowing us to see and measure home performance in ways we couldn’t just a few years ago. This technology enables us to quantify home performance. If we can measure and compare it we can place value on it. “Home performance” is now just as important as granite countertops and square footage . . . and just as important, the technology to measure home performance is inexpensive, reliable and very easy to apply.

I’m a capitalist and have always appreciated the saying “if you want less of something tax it, if you want more of something incentivize it.” I tend to lean towards less government regulation. But I also see the need to reduce energy consumption, take easy steps towards efficiency, and work together as a community to achieve greater impact. 

Buyers don’t want to purchase inefficient homes. They regularly ask me who the better builders are. But currently, there is no easy way for me to show them this. We have no market system that measures and evaluates performance in a meaningful and comparable way, allowing buyers to make an educated purchase. Home scoring prior to sale, when it’s most useful to the buying decision, allows buyers to include home performance in their purchase. This is the step that puts a price tag on energy efficiency and creates the market. 

Today, without a transparent marketplace, if a client looking to sell their home said they had $5,000 to invest in the home before listing it, I would never suggest they invest this money in energy performance upgrades because these investments cannot be easily seen and recouped. I would suggest classic improvement like countertops, paint, and flooring because these upgrades can be seen, valued, and recouped. If a mandatory energy scoring program were in place, energy investments would be highlighted in an easy to understand report created by a professional. This report (with a simple to understand home energy score) brings out hidden investments and presents them in a way that is easy to compare and put a price tag on. A mandatory system will create a marketplace where energy performance investments are spotlighted, compared and valued, allowing them to be recouped and incentivized. Mandatory scoring creates a market place. This market place is the key to incentivizing builders and homeowners voluntarily to make energy improvements because they can recoup their investments.

Without a marketplace, when we suggest builders make improvements the market cannot easily put a price tag on, we are asking them to take a financial risk. To reduce the builders’ financial risk and improve market standards, we can take one of two paths. 1) We can mandate a building code increase. Guaranteeing all homes improve at roughly the same price and speed, leveling the risk. 2) Or we can create a market where a builder taking a financial risk on an energy efficient upgrade, will likely multiply their investment because it’s measurable and valued. A transparent marketplace supports these investments and also creates the opportunity for innovators and leaders to be incentivized for their risk. Likewise, poor builders will be penalized by the market place for failing to innovate.

You are considering a third option – asking a builder to take risk inside a marketplace that cannot value and compare the financial upgrade they are investing in. Without market support builders are less likely to see a positive outcome – and we are setting ourselves up for failure and a market that will only innovative if we regulate it. An option I do not want to see!!

The Home Energy Scoring Program creates mandatory transparency, not mandatory change or improvements. It creates a marketplace where Home Performance is measured, compared, and valued. This value incentivizes improvements voluntarily. It is not a tax or regulation. 

Mandatory scoring creates a market system where builders can be rewarded for leadership and innovation. The opposite of this approach is to create regulations and new codes to force the bottom of the market to catch up. Mandatory performance scoring, prior to sale, creates a new market that incentivizes and rewards those who build better. 

However, asking builders to make improvements without creating a system that supports their efforts and investment, leaves them exposed and vulnerable to loss. Mandatory transparency creates a market that supports risk and innovation instead of masking weak products. 

The best part of a mandatory transparency program is these cash incentives will be paid by buyers who want these products, who now own better homes, and have more valuable investments… not by taxpayers.

If you want to see change, incentivize it – don’t regulate it. Let’s use the Home Energy Scoring Program which provides transparency, to create a market that voluntarily encourages innovation and energy efficiency and where builders are financially rewarded for leading the way in energy efficiency.

 

Mike Tucker / Residential & Investment Specialist

503-939-6155 mobile

Licensed Broker in the State of Oregon

Earth Advantage Broker / GREEN

 

Why Bend needs a Home Energy Score

Here at The Environmental Center, we care about the environment, climate change, and affordable housing. And we think the Home Energy Score needs to be part of Bend’s Community Climate Action Plan.

First of all, the low-down on what exactly we are talking about. A Home Energy Score (HES) program would require a home to obtain a HES before it is listed for sale. The seller would pay an estimated cost of $150-250 to get a HES. Keep in mind that many sellers are also buyers. So they are paying this cost once for their home, and then getting the same information for every other home that they view—which for some people can be anywhere from 5 to 20+ homes.

And to get to the heart of the issue—why is the Home Energy Score so important? From the climate perspective, a HES program addresses residential energy use, the biggest source of sector-based emissions, according to Bend’s Community Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory. It is a strategy that has a proven track record of success in cities such as Austin, Texas which has had a mandatory disclosure ordinance for 10 years. It has a relatively high cumulative emissions reduction potential because it introduces information and resources that are critical for buyers and renters alike to take action on their energy use.

Buyers need to be presented with energy information early in the home buying process so that they can actually use this information to inform their decisions (rather than after an expensive home inspection when it’s too late in the process–not to mention the fact that a home inspection doesn’t give you adequate information to figure out what your energy costs will be).  If a home has low score, they are not required to fix it before listing it for sale (can you imagine the pushback if that were the case?!). It will, however, give someone looking at that home a heads up on what they can expect their energy costs to be and a list of potential improvements they could make so they can factor those costs appropriately into their buying decision. Some homes with a lower score, with a few energy upgrades, may still cost less than a home with a higher score that is already pretty energy efficient. Without knowing what energy improvements make sense for all the homes they are considering, the average homebuyer would never be able to weigh all those variables to figure out which is the better deal with just information from a call the utility companies (just getting historical utility bills does not give you an apples to apples comparison between homes is  because so much depends on occupant behavior and the number living in a home). Additionally, when you have the energy information up-front, you can integrate it into financing products to help you make improvements that could save you hundreds of dollars a year. And as more data is collected about home performance and the savings associated with energy improvements, even better financing products can be developed.

Taking action on energy use goes so far beyond just a climate discussion. A rent or mortgage payment is not the only factor that determines a family’s monthly housing costs and housing affordability. Energy bills are too significant of a cost to be left out of the conversation. So if we are really going to dig into this issue, we need to address the fact that 15-29% or Deschutes County residents are energy burdened (Oregon Department of Energy’s 2018 Biennial Energy Report ). A household is considered energy burdened when their expenditures exceed 6% of their income. Energy burden is a real problem in our community and the HES is one tool that can help us start to understand the problem and potential solutions, while also helping people avoid getting into a housing situation that they can’t afford.

Right now, we know that information on how to reduce energy use—or even information that paying $300+ for energy costs is not normal—is not getting into the hands of the people who need it. This program gets energy information out in the open so that we can start to use it as our new lexicon for how we talk about our homes.

Let’s have real conversations about our homes and how these spaces impact the occupants – and move beyond talking about square footage and countertops.

Do you care about the Home Energy Score? Share your comments directly with City Council through this portal developed by Oregon League of Conservation Voters. 

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.

What is the Home Energy Score and why is it in the CCAP?

The Home Energy Score is a specific sub-action that is called out in Bend’s Community Climate Action Plan (CCAP). It states:

Energy in Buildings Strategy 3: Implement benchmarking and disclosure programs for energy performance (page 24 in the CCAP)

Sub-action: Implement a Home Energy Score program that requires every home to be scored on its energy use and energy efficiency at the time of listing.

It is important to note that at this point, the Home Energy Score is just a strategy in the Climate Action Plan. In order for it to be put into place, a separate ordinance will have to be developed and adopted by City Council. We have the opportunity to shape the program into something that works for Bend. The development of the ordinance will be a collaborative process with the community. The general assumed structure is based on ordinances from other communities across the country.

What is the Home Energy Score? 

Developed by the Department of Energy and its national laboratories, the Home Energy Score™ provides homeowners, buyers, and renters directly comparable and credible information about a home’s energy use. Like a miles-per-gallon rating for a car, the HES is based on a standard assessment of energy-related assets to easily compare energy use across the housing market. The tool is uniquely refined to require minimal data input – to save on time, money, and training for Assessors – while producing maximum accuracy for energy use predictions.

Home Energy Score will help build market value for energy efficient homes that improve quality of life by:

  • Providing homeowners and homebuyers knowledge of home energy efficiency and cost-effective improvements in order to reduce energy use and costs.
  • Encouraging use of reliable, consistent home energy efficiency information in real estate transactions to inform decisions, and build market value for comfortable, energy efficient homes.
  • Integrating energy information into financing products to help drive the market for comfortable, energy efficient homes.

Features of the Home Energy Score

The Home Energy Score Report estimates home energy use, associated costs, and provides energy solutions to cost-effectively improve the home’s efficiency. Each HES is shown on a simple one-to-ten scale, where a ten represents the most efficient homes.

  • An energy efficiency score based on the home’s envelope (foundation, roof, walls, insulation, windows) and heating, cooling, and hot water systems
  • A total energy use estimate, as well as estimates by fuel type assuming standard operating conditions and occupant behavior
  • Recommendations for cost-effective improvements and associated annual cost savings estimates
  • A “Score with Improvements” reflecting the home’s expected score if cost-effective improvements are implemented

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% or 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).

A HES policy addresses residential energy use, the biggest source of sector-based emissions in Bend, according to the Community Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory and it introduces information that is critical for buyers and renters alike to take action on their energy use

Is Bend the only community considering a mandatory HES program?

Oregon’s statewide home energy scoring program is voluntary, but more local cities are looking into developing mandatory programs. The City of Portland was the first Oregon community to adopt a mandatory energy score program. In the last year, Portland has issued more than 7,000 scores. Oregon Department of Energy has also met with other Oregon communities, including Milwaukie, Eugene, Corv​allis, Ashland, Hood River, and Hillsboro.

Other Background Resources

 

A loan for energy projects paid through your energy bill

This is way more exciting than it sounds

If you’re going to save money when you make home energy upgrades, wouldn’t it be nice to apply those savings directly to your financing payments? Well, it turns out someone out there is really trying to make saving energy as easy as possible.

This is exactly what you can do with Craft 3‘s On-Bill Repayment program. You can pay for an energy-saving project through monthly payments on your utility bill. Currently, you can take advantage of this program if you are a customer of Pacific Power and are making qualified energy upgrades that will reduce your electricity costs.

We caught up with Sara Holman, owner of Baby Cakes Diaper Service, to hear about her experience with the on-bill repayment program. She is currently making loan payments through her Pacific Power bill for two energy-saving projects.

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Expiring tax credits for efficiency products and solar

Excellent motivation to jump on your energy-saving to do list before the end of the year

Almost forty years ago Oregon was a leader in the energy efficiency movement when the state created the Residential Energy Tax Credit (RETC) program. The Oregon Department of Energy has overseen this program with the intention of encouraging Oregon residents to adopt more energy efficient devices from appliances to heating systems to solar panels.

The RETC covers 25 different products but there are a few in particular that we have our eye on because of their potential to save large amounts of energy and their excellent return on investment. Here’s a rundown of a few products that will be affected and how you can get a project started before the tax credits expire.

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The Powerhouse on Union Street – Green Tour Site # 1

A Creative Path To Zero Energy for Two Small Homes

The accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on this property is a powerhouse. Literally. The solar panels on the roof of this small one bed, one bath ADU, produce a “net positive” amount of energy. This means that it at the end of the year, this home nets a positive amount of energy and even nets enough energy to power the main house.

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