Since most everyone is watching every penny during the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s time to look at your home’s largest energy users — clothes washers to water heaters and furnaces — and consider if an upgrade or replacement would be a wise investment.
Energy-efficient appliances should shave down your electric bill, reduce your carbon footprint and make your home more comfortable for years to come.
Savings can start now when you really need it. The hours you used to be at work, school, restaurants and gyms are now spent at home. That extra time on your computer, streaming shows and keeping lights on may be spiking your electricity usage.
Energy Trust of Oregon and its utility partners have incentives and rebates on energy savers, from insulation to windows and appliances, and retailers are offering major discounts on refrigerators, washers and dryers, water heaters and furnaces.
“There is a lot of help and money available right now for people looking at making smart, energy-efficient upgrades at home,” said Mana Haeri of Energy Trust.
One of the biggest energy expenses is heating your water, she said. More people at home during the pandemic means more laundry, showers and dishes.
“Installing a new electric heat pump water heater could save you hundreds of dollars on utility bills each year,” said Haeri. “They’re more efficient. They have longer warranties compared to standard electric water heaters. And right now, Energy Trust is offering a $500 cash incentive, which covers a large chunk of the cost.”
Customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista can receive $500 toward buying certain efficient water heaters, which could also save more than $300 per year in electricity costs.
There are also discounts for ductless mini splits, which cool and heat your home and are a more comfortable alternative to baseboard or wall heating systems, according to energy experts.
Visit energytrust.org for no-cost and low-cost energy-saving tips plus more information on available cash incentives. Some Oregon cities offer debates on energy-efficient improvements, from windows to cooling.
Here are energy-efficient appliances on sale with added energy incentives:
Major home appliances have a purchase cost and monthly utility costs. To reduce upfront costs, Energy Trust works with select retailers to provide price discounts, better financing options or other perks.
Front-load clothes washers: Energy Star-certified front-load clothes washers use about 40% less water and 25% less energy than standard models, say experts. View a list of qualifying models and apply online for a cash-back rebate within 60 days of the purchase. Or contact a participating retail location.
>Best Buy has sales and price match guarantees on clothes washers.
>Lowe’s has sales and free delivery on washing machines.
Clothes dryers: Certified electric clothes dryers use about 20% less energy than standard models, helping you save money and energy without sacrificing features or performance, say experts. Contact a participating retail location to learn what specific benefits they are offering on efficient models.
>Best Buy has sales and price match guarantees on clothes dryers and lists instant rebates.
>Lowe’s has sales and free delivery on clothes dryers.
Refrigerators and freezers: Energy Trust doesn’t offer incentives on new refrigerators and freezers, but models with the blue Energy Star label use about 10% less energy, last longer and operate more quietly than standard models.
Instead of installing an air conditioning unit, highly efficient alternatives called heat pumps use the outside air to cool a home in the summer and warm it in the winter. They use about 40% less energy than an electric furnace, according to energy experts.
>Home Depot has a variety of brands and sizes of mini split heat pumps and offers deferred, interest-free payments with the Home Depot credit card for purchases more than $299. You can get a quote after a free consultation.
Properly insulating your floors, walls and attic can keep you comfortable throughout the year, reduce outside noise, control moisture, keep out pollutants, save energy and lower your heating and cooling costs, say experts.
Professionally installed insulation can qualify for an incentive of 25 cents to 75 cents a square foot. A professional can seal air leaks before installing the insulation, which reduces drafts, controls moisture, keeps out pollutants and increases energy savings.
If you install insulation yourself, call Energy Trust at 866-368-7878 to receive pre-approval on your work to receive the same $0.25-$0.75 a square foot cash incentive.
Switching from traditional incandescent light bulbs to Energy Trust-certified bulbs is the easiest and most affordable way to reduce electricity costs.
Energy Trust works with Ace Hardware, Batteries Plus Bulbs, Dollar Tree, Home Depot, Walmart, Walgreens and other select retailers and manufacturers to bring you instant discounts on qualified Energy Star LEDs light bulbs and fixture. No coupons required.
Recycling CFLs: Used CFLs are considered household hazardous waste because they contain a small amount of mercury. Home Depot, IKEA or Lowe’s accepts used CFLs, as do household hazardous waste collection facilities and neighborhood collection events to accept paint, oil or pesticides.
Energy-efficient showerheads are easy to install and can help cut back on water use and reduce the energy needed to heat your water while maintaining strong water pressure. Energy Trust provides instant discounts for WaterSense wall-mounted showerheads and handheld shower wands in many styles and finishes at retailers such as Costco, Lowe’s and others.
Energy Trust of Oregon has a coupon for $100 off a qualifying smart thermostat for eligible utility customer. Go to energytrustinstant.dsmtracker.com and select a Google Nest Thermostat E ($169, buy for $69), Google Nest Learning Thermostat ($249 for $149) or ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control ($249 for $149). Receive a coupon code by email and use it at checkout.
>Home Depot has smart thermostats, many are on sale. The Google Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen in Mirror Black (T3018US) is on sale at $219, a $31 savings. Use Energy Trust of Oregon’s $100 coupon code at checkout.
>Lowe’s has smart thermostats, some are on sale.
Energy Trust of Oregon has a $500 incentive to buy heat pump water heaters, which also save hundreds of dollars in energy savings each year.
>Home Depot offers sales on traditional gas or electric water heater tanks as well an energy-efficient tankless water heaters throughout the year. If you purchase an item when it’s not on sale and it goes on sale within the return policy, Home Depot will match the discount. If you sign up for the Home Depot credit card, you can opt to receive deferred interest for six months for purchases more than $299.
>Lowe’s has 10% off Rinnai water heaters and 20% off (up to $100) on a purchase if you open up a new account through January 331, 2021. Check lowes.com/l/available-rebates.html for current rebates from various sources and online forms.
Installing new, tight-fitting windows helps seal your home against unwanted drafts and air leaks, and reduces condensation, say experts. To receive an Energy Trust cash incentive of $1.75-$10 a square foot, contact a qualified energy-efficiency-trained contractor.
Planning to do the work yourself? Learn more here.
If you own an individual condominium unit, townhome, duplex, triplex or fourplex, visit Energy Trust of Oregon’s Multifamily page to view cash incentives for upgrades.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072