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Mike Morgan of Morgan Heating doing an installation in a home under construction. Photo credit: Jim Kight

Leaky windows with broken seals? A furnace that provides heat and high utility bills at the same time? Little or no insulation in the walls, ceilings and floors? Hot water heater that needs replacing? Check out the benefits that Energy Trust of Oregon provides to folks in your situation.

Established by the State of Oregon Legislature, Senate bill 1149 helped create Energy Trust of Oregon. It is an independent coalition of electric and gas providers throughout Oregon. All utility users support the trust by paying 3% of their bill into the trust. The revenue for last year was $148.9 million for the state-wide program. Their stated goal is to provide low rates through energy efficiencies such as replacing outdated windows and in particular single glaze, insulation upgrades, and 90-95% efficient gas furnaces.

For this story I interviewed two employees, Becky Engel and Tom Beverly.

Q. If a rental property owner is considering replacing windows that are milky due to broken seals or single pane windows that leak like a sieve, how can you help?

A. First, we start off with an energy audit walkthrough. For homeowners that can do an audit on line. It is comprehensive and includes windows, insulation, heat source, etc. We provide reimbursement of between $1.75 to $4 per square of window. Replacing old or failing windows can be a huge savings to homeowners. We estimate that Oregonians saved $396 million in energy efficiencies through our program statewide; or another way to look at it is enough electrical power savings to provide electricity to 564,000 homes since our program started in 2002 to present.

Q. What if there is little or no insulation in floors, walls and attic space? What is the reimbursement cost for that?

A. This is another place where multi-family rental owners get a real bang for the buck. Insulation over time compresses and you don’t have the original R factor. By adding insulation in the floors and attic space you can have real cost savings. Most heat loss is because of a deficiency of insulation. Properly insulated attic, walls and floors or a combination of these items homeowners and renters will notice an immediate benefit. The residence stays warmer longer heats up quicker and stays cooler in the summer. We pay$.25 to .30 per square foot for insulation.

Q. Is this program available for owners of rental properties?

A. We are available to assist not only single-family homes but families living in townhouses, condominiums, and apartments. Here is the cool part. We will come to multi-family residence and install LED light replacement, faucet aerators, energy efficient shower heads and advanced power strips for electronic equipment. Cost is zip, nada to the residence and property owner.

Q. We run our heating units whether gas, oil or electric several months of the year. What about savings through something inexpensive like a new thermostat?

A. With the new technology available today, we have a deal for you. Nest and Ecobee both have the latest technology smart thermostats. It is connected via the internet to your phone app so you can control your heat or cooling temperature from your location. If you are coming home late from work but want the house to be warm when you get home, no problem. We pay $50.00 once you have turned in the application and receipts.

Q. Do you have contractors who are reliable and dependable ?

A. We have a list of contractors that have been fully vetted. They all have a CCB numbers and much be in good standing, have complete insurance coverage and are required to take an orientation class before they get on the approved list.

Q. What can an owner save by making these improvements?

A. We estimate over time for every $1.00 invested in upgrades you save $3.00.

Q. How can you save energy costs on appliances?

A. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo and note carefully the energy savings. In some cases, there is a rebate on certain appliances which includes furnaces that are 90-95% efficient. Before you shop go on our website or give us a call.

Q. What are the steps?

1. Complete the energy audit on line or call Energy Trust of Oregon (877) 510-2130 and talk to their service representatives. Multi-family owners can schedule a free walk through survey.

2. Visit our web site which will help your project be successful and financially beneficial. www.energytrustoforegon.

3. Choose a contractor that has been approved, not your brother-in-law.

4. Pay the contractor.

5. Have your contractor send in the incentive form along with receipts and voila, we send you a reimbursement check.

I have personally used Energy Trust program in the past and found them to be customer friendly and very knowledgeable. Unfortunately, too many people go forward with a project and are unaware of this program, thus the article. Hope I saved you some money.

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