Summer is in full swing now, and it’s getting hot outside. I keep thinking about all the energy I’m using to keep my house cool (among other things), and I know there are some ways I can upgrade my house so it’s more energy efficient.
And did you know that some of these upgrades have some pretty sweet rebate money tied to them? It’s a win-win-win. You’ll save money on your utility bills, get a rebate to pay for part of the cost of upgrading your home, and help out our environment.
First Up, Get an Energy Assessment
First, it’s a smart idea to get an energy assessment of your home. If you’ve bought a home in Portland recently, you probably know that your home had an energy score attached to it, which recommends the most cost-effective energy improvements you can make to that home.
If you haven’t bought your home recently or you don’t live within Portland city limits, it’s worth spending some time and money to learn how your home uses energy.
EnergyTrust of Oregon, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping Oregon use less energy, has some great resources for getting started. The website even has a 10-minute online assessment that can help you take a look at where your home is using too much energy. You can also find a qualified assessor to take a look at your home and make recommendations for upgrades you should make.
Appliances in your home, especially ancient ones, can consume massive amounts of energy. If you have a washer that’s a couple of decades old, for instance, you’re definitely using a lot more water and energy to heat that water than a comparable modern version would use.
Replacing these old appliances with new, energy-efficient models can be a smart move in the long run. And if you need a new clothes washer or a refrigerator, you’re in luck! Both have cash rebates available (or, if you use a participating retailer, the discount is at checkout, so you don’t even have to wait for a check to come in the mail).
Old clothes washers use a lot of water, so you spend extra on water and sewer bills and on heating that water. Get $150 to $300 off the purchase of a new, energy-efficient washer. Just go here for details.
Refrigerators are also huge energy hogs. An energy-efficient one will insulate your food better and have a more regulated temperature. Get a $35 rebate on a new refrigerator by going here.
Heating and Cooling Systems
Heating systems that are more than 15 to 20 years old are pretty inefficient by today’s standards. It just might be time to upgrade to a new system (or at lease utilize a smart thermostat).
Heat pumps are very efficient because they move heat in or out of your home (depending on the season) instead of generating it. If you have a heat pump system or want to get one, there are several great rebate options available for you.
You can get a $200 discount when any PGE-approved contractor upgrades an old heat pump to a new, energy-efficient model. Go here to get started.
Upgrade your electric heating system to a heat pump system and get anywhere from $250 to $700 in the form of a cash rebate. Just go here to get started. If you’re interested in an upgrade to a heat pump system, you may be able to finance it through PGE, giving you small monthly payments rather than a large upfront expense.
A smart thermostat helps get your home to the optimal temperature based on your usage patterns (which it learns over time) and the local weather. This keeps your costs as low as possible in a very convenient way. You can also adjust the temperature of your home even when you’re not even there.
If you want to buy a Google Nest or ecobee smart thermostat, get a $50 instant coupon by going here. These are usually fairly easy to install yourself, assuming your wiring is compatible.
If you have a ducted heat pump system, electric furnace, or central A/C, you can also join the PGE Smart Thermostat Program and earn money every year. First, they’ll install a Google Nest or ecobee for free or at a steep discount. You’ll get $25 for joining the program, and you’ll get another $25 each summer and winter that you continue to participate in the program. Just go here for more details on the program.
Did you know that heating water is the second-largest utility expense after heating and cooling your home? So this is a good place to focus if you’re wanting to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency.
Any water heater that’s more than a decade old is likely using way too much energy and could benefit from an upgrade. Tankless water heaters, which produce hot water on demand rather than storing it all the time, are a really smart move.
You can get up to $100 back from a new, energy-efficient gas water heater and up to $500 back from an electric one. Find all the details here.
The Portland Water Bureau is offering $50 to $100 if you replace an old toilet or urinal with a high-efficiency one. The old toilet or urinal must be recycled at an approved recycling center, and rebates are given on a first-come, first-serve basis. The program will end when the money is depleted.
If you’re a residential customer, you can get rebates for up to two toilets per water account. Check out all the details here.
If your home is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, you might need more insulation in your home. Properly installed insulation keeps you more comfortable and reduces noise from the outside. And no surprise—a properly insulated home can really reduce your utility bills.
Before you install new insulation, you’ll want to seal any air leaks and insulate and seal ducts, as well.
You can get .25 to .50 cents a square foot for professionally installed insulation or the same amount if you do it yourself.
This is by far the most expensive upgrade on this list, but there are some awesome rebates and tax credits available to you if you decide to take the plunge.
You can get $400 per kilowatt, up to $3,200 in the form of a cash rebate from EnergyTrust. Check out those details here.
The federal government also has a tax credit that allows you to take 30% of the cost of your new solar panels off of your taxes. However, that tax credit is going to be reduced after 2019, so now might just be the time to do it.
Additionally, it’s possible to earn a credit on your bill by allowing PGE to use the excess power your solar panels generate. Go here for more details.
I hope this gives you some ideas for how you can upgrade the energy efficiency of your home while also scoring some great rebates. Together, we can make a big difference.
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