Gray-sky lovers in the Pacific Northwest can feel as if they’re melting when summer temperatures sizzle toward 100 degrees. Last year’s deadly heat dome motivated many people to upgrade the way their home can stay cooler, while still being energy efficient.
Those with tighter budgets and higher utility bills are looking at cash rebates and other incentives to take the pain out of energy-saving expenses, from upgrading insulation to adding air conditioning.
“With temperatures and energy costs on the rise, this is a great time for folks to make simple, but effective home improvements,” said Scott Leonard of Energy Trust of Oregon. “We also want to make sure Oregonians have access to air conditioners, which can be lifesaving in extreme heat events.”
Energy Trust and its utility partners offer incentives for efficient central air-conditioning units for people of all income levels, he said. And reducing energy use saves on monthly bills in the future.
But not all home cooling ideas need to involve a professional crew and high finance.
Lizzie Rubado of Energy Trust offers these tips to lower the temperature inside:
Turn off heat-generating devices: Home appliances, electronics and incandescent light bulbs create heat when on. Power down devices and consider switching to Energy Trust-certified bulbs like LEDs. This is the easiest and most affordable way to reduce electricity costs.
Avoid heating up the oven. Instead, use the microwave, stovetop or outside grill.
Use windows strategically: Less light results in less heat. Close windows, blinds, shades and curtains to keep heat outside. Light-colored window coverings help reflect heat.
Close windows and window coverings in hot weather during the day and open windows at night or early in the morning to let cool air in.
As a longer-term strategy, consider replacing old windows with Energy Star-certified windows, which can lower household energy bills by an average of 12%, according to Energy Trust.
New windows also help prevent drafts, air leaks, condensation and noise. Energy Trust offers cash back when inefficient windows are replaced. Read more at energytrust.org/residential/incentives/windows.
Planting trees or tall shrubs outside of windows can also filter sunlight before it enters your home.
Swirl around the cooler air: A ceiling fan can help circulate cool air from the air conditioner. Choose an Energy Star-qualified ceiling fan and light combination, and set it to spin counterclockwise, which pushes air down and creates a cool breeze that feels pleasant to people in the room.
Stop air leaks: Sealing air leaks and insulating your home can reduce cooling and heating costs.
If you’re adding insulation, seal air leaks first. Add caulk or weatherstripping around drafty doors and windows, and seal holes or cracks hidden in attics, basements and crawlspaces with caulk, spray foam or weatherstripping.
By properly insulating your floors, walls and attic, you can stay comfortable throughout the year, reduce outside noise, control moisture, keep out pollutants and save energy by lowering your heating and cooling needs.
Qualifying attic insulation projects installed between June 1 and Oct. 31, 2022 have an enhanced incentive of $1.25 per square foot. Locate an eligible contractor in you area at energytrust.org/find-a-contractor.
If you install insulation yourself, call Energy Trust at 866-368-7878 to receive pre-approval for a cash incentive.
Save with a smart thermostat: When no one is home, set the air conditioner or heat pump thermostat a few degrees higher than normal.
A smart thermostat can make automatic adjustments to boost comfort and savings. Some models can even use local weather information to make energy-saving temperature changes throughout the day.
Find out which smart thermostat is right for you and save $80 with Energy Trust’s instant coupon at energytrust.org/residential/incentives/thermostat.
To keep the air conditioning system efficient, change the air filter regularly. A dirty filter reduces airflow. And make sure all vents and registers are well sealed where they meet floors, walls and ceilings.
Check for central air conditioning incentives that are available for your home at energytrust.org/residential/incentives/air-conditioning.
There are incentives for manufactured homes through Dec. 31, 2022 and rental properties through Aug. 31, 2023.
Energy assistance programs are also available through local community-based agencies. Find your local agency at oregon.gov/ohcs/energy-weatherization/Pages/weatherization-services.aspx
For more energy-saving DIY tips, visit energytrust.org/residential/DIY.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072
firstname.lastname@example.org | @janeteastman