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About 32 percent of Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions come from heating, cooling and powering Oregon's residential and commercial buildings. You can make a difference by making your home or business more energy efficient and choosing green power options.
Improve Energy Efficiency in Your Home or Business
Sealing air leaks and improving insulation will make your home or workplace more comfortable, save energy and reduce your heating and cooling costs.
- The Energy Trust of Oregon encourages existing building retrofits and new green building, as well as renewable energy generation. On the website you can sign up for a free home energy review, get technical information, find approved contractors and learn about cash incentives for making improvements. If you are outside of the Energy Trust service territory and you have a
co-op or Public Utility District (PUD) for your utility, check with them
about weatherization incentives.
- The Energy Trust and the City of Portland have teamed up to offer CleanEnergyWorksPortland.org, an opportunity for homeowners to install a package of weatherization and efficient appliance measures, fully finance them with low-interest, long-term loans, pay the loan back on their utility bill, and roll the loan over to the new owners when the property is sold.
- Oregon Department of Energy’s Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program offers no-cost weatherization and conservation services for households below 60 percent of Oregon statewide median income.
- The Corvallis Environmental Center Resource Efficiency Program provides assistance for reducing energy consumption and taking advantage of financial incentives.
- EORenew (Eastern Oregon Renewable Energies Association) provides energy audits and information in eastern Oregon.
Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Choosing efficient appliances, air conditioners and computers can make a big difference in energy use and carbon emissions from power plants. Most appliances that are five years old or older could be replaced with a more efficient model that will save carbon emissions and money. You might have to spend a bit more up front, but you’ll save a lot on electricity bills (just don’t move the old refrigerator into the garage and keep using it!).
Water-related energy use, including pumping, treating and heating, comprises roughly 20% of Oregon’s energy. To reduce your water consumption:
- Turn off your water when it’s not use.
- Take shorter showers.
- Don’t leave the water running when you brush your teeth.
- Discover unseen leaks by reading your meter.
- Install low-flow shower heads and aerators on your faucet.
- Use Energy Star rated appliances.
- Install and use water-efficient landscaping and irrigation methods (for example, plant drought tolerant plants; install drip irrigation systems). Some sources of sustainable landscaping tips are:
Make Other Simple Changes
- Change the lights. Replace incandescent light bulbs that are frequently used with compact fluorescent lights. Replacing one incandescent light bulb can save $15 a year in electricity costs or $30-$60 over the bulb’s lifespan.
- Unplug it. Appliances, chargers, home theater equipment, stereos and televisions use electricity even when their power is “off” (these are called “vampire” loads). Take a look around your home and unplug seldom-used appliances. Install power strips so that the power to frequently used items can be easily turned off.
- Set your thermostat. Set your thermostat in winter to 68° or less during the daytime, and 55° before going to sleep or when you’re away for the day, to save 5-20% on your space heating costs. During the summer, set thermostats to 78° degrees or more to save 5-20% of your cooling costs. So you don’t have to remember to adjust the thermostat, purchase an inexpensive programmable one.
- Regularly clean or replace furnace air filters. You can save up to 350 pounds of carbon dioxide and $150 per year by simply tending to your air filter every six months.
Support Renewable Energy
Many utilities in Oregon offer "green power" options that give consumers and business the chance to buy some or all of their energy from renewable energy sources such as wind power. When you choose these options, your dollars add to market demand for renewables and reduce carbon dioxide and pollutants emitted from burning fossil fuels.
Generate Your Own Renewable Energy
Oregon offers residential and business energy tax credits for solar, small wind, and other renewable energy systems and there are federal tax incentives as well as additional rebates available from the Energy Trust of Oregon or your local co-op or PUD. If you have a grid-tied system, Oregon utilities will credit you for the renewable electricity produced by your system. Credits can be rolled forward for up to a year, so your annual electric bill is simply the amount you consume minus the amount your system produces.
New Construction? Build Green
Oregon is a hub for energy efficient and green building practices. Check out some of these resources:
Link to more Take Action ideas:
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