The recent cold snap across the area and shorter winter days mean Central Oregonians are more reliant on heating sources, lighting and electronics. With the shift in the weather, people become more aware of energy usage and are susceptible to higher utility bills. Even though Oregon has relatively low electricity costs when compared to the rest of the country, ranking well below the national average, it's still a significant and necessary cost for homeowners of all income levels.
- Pixabay, James DeMers
The average American household spends approximately $2,060 per year on energy for heating the home, lighting needs and powering appliances, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories study. This expenditure varies widely based on usage habits, types of fuels and the rate at which these are sold in an area. The dollar cost of energy is normally not within a homeowner's control—but the amount of energy needed and used can be.
It's common knowledge that switching out incandescent light bulbs for more efficient LED bulbs can help save money. Some have heard that adding more insulation or upgrading windows could help reduce energy bills, but how does someone decide which project is most beneficial or cost effective? As we discussed last month, one sure-fire way that property owners can verify their home's efficiency and energy usage is to have a home energy audit or home energy assessment.
Energy Trust of Oregon's Free Online Home Energy Evaluation
This assessment is an easy DIY online tool that will help provide a quick evaluation of any home and the suggested upgrades that will help lower monthly bills. After completing a 10-minute survey, the homeowner will receive a calculation of the estimated current home energy usage and will offer recommendations for energy-saving improvements, including simple low or no-cost tips that will save money and energy. The online energy evaluation will also include available cash incentives and rebates and a list of Energy Trust trade ally contractors to provide some of the services. The evaluation tool and much more valuable information can be found at energytrust.org/residential/evaluate-your-home/.
Professional Home Energy Audit Assessment
A professional home energy audit is a top-to-bottom, room-by-room examination of the residence as well as a thorough examination of past utility bills. Audits are a more comprehensive performance test and many professional energy assessments will include a blower door test and a thermo-graphic scan. GreenSavers is a local company that can perform this audit for $300. It can be easily scheduled online and they can also assist with improvements such as insulation, HVAC, water heater and solar panel upgrades. GreenSavers will provide a home performance report, air quality report and a complete breakdown of priorities, costs, cash incentives and tax credits. Find out more at greensavers.com.
When performing any upgrades to a home, always make sure the project is well documented with before, during and after pictures, copies of receipts and noticeable savings in utility bills. This information will help make a home stand out and add value if the time comes to sell.