With the connection residents of the Pacific Northwest have to the amazing outdoor environment you would expect more homeowners to be actively engaged with sustainable and energy efficient technologies. Some builders have recently embraced the benefits and incorporate sustainable building practices well above standard building codes. However, only 1.7% of 2020 Portland Metro home saleswere Green Energy certified, with the majority having been built in the last 3 years.
The problem is that majority of our existing housing stock is old, built with energy inefficient building practices and technologies. In fact, the median age of homes in Portland is 58 years old, 18 years more than the U.S. average. To address this issue, Portland now requires sellers of single family homes to obtain and disclose a Home Energy Report estimating energy usage, costs and suggested cost-effective improvements. This report provides a comprehensive understanding of your home’s (or future home’s) energy costs and energy effective improvements you can implement.
So let’s review 5 Energy Efficient Home Improvements you can consider for your home.
Example of Portland’s Home Energy Score
#1 INSULATION – most older homes are less insulated than new homes. A home energy audit will identify areas where your home needs air sealing and could benefit from additional insulation to lower your energy bills. Attics, exterior walls, floors above cold spaces and duct insulation should all be considered. New net-zero construction homes in Portland can achieve 40% energy savings from sealing and insulating their homes.
#2 HEATING AND COOLING – high efficiency heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems can dramatically lower your utility bills up to 20%-50%. Heating accounts for an average of 42% of our utility bills. The cost to replace is large up front but consider replacing older units with new energy efficient models which can pay for themselves with savings. However, having efficient HVAC systems with poor insulation, sealing and old thermometers may not produce as much savings as expected.
#3 PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTATS – one survey claims 32% of American households have smart technologies within their homes. I think the figure is much higher. Getting a smart programmable thermostat(s) is an easy effective way to control your heating and cooling costs. Some smart products like Nest and Ecobee, have simple installation and user interfaces that use habit learning and geo-fencing technologies to control heating and cooling when you’re present. Program when you’re not at home or sleeping to lower demand and costs. Access the thermostat with an app on your phone to lower your heating or cooling temperature when away from home.
#4 WINDOWS – for older homes built before the 1960’s windows can be a significant source of heat gain or loss from leaky and single pane windows. The cost to replace windows is significant and energy savings will not likely offset the costs. High efficiency window replacements have other benefits such as reduced UV damage to interior floors and furniture, noise reduction, insulation and security. New windows are rated by Energy Star for their energy performance. Oregon homes should have gas-filled windows with low-e coatings to reduce heat loss during winters.
#5 APPLIANCES – energy efficient appliances can be an easy cost efficient upgrade. Most new appliances incorporate smart technologies and use significantly less energy than older models. Look for the Energy Star label to ensure an efficient appliance.
There are many incentives for Oregon and Portland homeowners to install energy efficient upgrades. Energy Trust of Oregonhas a list of incentives and rebates available. Did you know that you can get energy efficient mortgages (EEM) to purchase or refinance certified energy efficient homes and energy improvement mortgages (EIM) to make energy efficient improvements?
The purpose of an energy improvement mortgage is to provide extra funds rolled into your mortgage to incorporate energy efficient improvements that will save more money than the cost to install them. Similarly, an energy efficient mortgage credits the borrower the energy savings from lower utility bills of a certified energy efficient home, allowing them to qualify for a larger loan amount. In both cases, a home energy audit (HERS) is required to verify the energy efficiency or potential savings from improvements.
If you’re looking to find a new energy efficient home or a fixer-upper to incorporate energy efficient improvementscontact Joshto help you find the right property.