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.

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.

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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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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Staying warm when you drop the temps

Just because you’ve set your thermostat back a few degrees, doesn’t mean that you should have to sacrifice comfort.

If you do it right, you may find that you feel even warmer after you lower your thermostat by making a few easy changes. 

Run ceiling fans in reverse (clockwise in the winter) to create an up-draft and pull cool air up. You want to pull cool air up to force the warm air back down because warm air will naturally rise. This will then redistribute warm air, helping you to feel warmer.

  • If you have a remote, the forward button is usually set for summer settings, and the back button for winter.
  • If you have a horizontal toggle switch, you usually need to flip to the right for winter and to the left for summer.
  • If you have a vertical toggle switch, switching up usually means pulling air up for winter.

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Maintaining your heat pump

Outdoor Ductless Heat Pump Unit

Do you know what kind of heating system you have? It’s OK if you don’t—this question catches many people off guard. This shouldn’t, however, be an excuse for not maintaining that system!

If you have an outdoor unit, it is either part of your air conditioner, or means that you are heating and cooling your home with a heat pump.  There are two types of heat pumps—ducted and ductless. If you have registers that supply heat in each room, you have a ducted system. You  will usually find your air handler in your garage or basement with large ducting coming off of the system that moves the conditioned air through your home.  If you have a unit mounted on your wall, commonly called a distribution head, you have a ductless system. Often times you will have a couple of centrally located heads with your ductless system.

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Furnace Filters 101–Why are they important?

Clean vs dirty filters

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!)


Tips for Choosing Your New Air Conditioner


We don’t have to tell you it is hot here on the High Desert! Record breaking heat this early into summer means you are probably wishing you had bought an air conditioner in April or May! If you are visiting a big box store you might have noticed that the minute the AC units are unloaded off the truck they are SOLD OUT! So make sure to check out some tips on staying cool until you get that new unit up and running.

The Bend Energy Challenge is hoping to take the guess work out of purchasing an air conditioner this summer. Here are some tips on what to look for and how to get the most efficient unit that fits your budget and home’s ideal scenario. Before you start shopping it is best to decide if you want to upgrade to a central AC system, ductless AC/Heating system or a new heat pump. Maybe your budget is currently only for a stand-alone window type unit, either way here is cheat sheet you can use to help guide to you in making the best purchase.

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10 Quick Tips to Keep you Cool During High Desert Summers

Looking for ways to escape the heat this summer while saving money on your energy bill?

The Bend Energy Challenge is here to help! We have compiled a Summer Saving “go-to” checklist for you and your family to keep cool and save money. Some of these tips are simple low cost tips, while others you might want to consider using a trained and certified energy saving contractor to help you. Either way, our goal is to help you save money and most importantly beat the heat this summer. Everyone deserves a cool and comfortable home to retreat to when the temperature rises.

Here are 10 tips to get you started:

1. Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze —Check to make sure your fan is blowing air downward to help you feel cooler. On hotter days, dialing up the thermostat by only two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower air conditioning costs by up to 14 percent over the course of the cooling season.

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