Have you ever thought about making energy efficient improvements on your home, but felt the cost would be too great? Maybe you know that investing the money will pay off in the long run through lower utility bills. Or you’re aware that a higher Home Energy Score will increase your home’s value. But paying the costs of some improvements upfront can be daunting for many.
Luckily, Portland is home to a number of programs that exist to alleviate the financial burden of energy efficient upgrades. These programs incentivize homeowners to take steps that are good for both them and the environment. But how do you wade through all the jargon?
That’s what we’re here for. Today, we’ll break down loan and cash back programs for Portlanders so that you can easily find a good fit for you. Keep reading to learn about how these programs can put a boost in your budget.
Energy Trust of Oregon
Established in 2001, Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit dedicated to saving money for utility customers by promoting efficient usage. They provide a variety of services, from loans to education. And they’re funded by you! Every customer of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas, and Avista pays a percentage of their bill towards Energy Trust. So you might as well reap the benefits of this unofficial tax!
Energy Trust offers some programs that are income qualified, meaning you need to have under a certain income to participate, and others that are open to all homeowners.
Savings Within Reach
Energy Trust’s Savings Within Reach plan offers premium cash back incentives to income-qualified households. And it should be noted that their definition of income-qualified is very accessible. They provide an easy-to-read chart with maximum income for size of household. Within seconds you can see if you qualify. And Savings Within Reach gives cash back for a number of improvements:
- $1.25/square foot for attic insulation*
- $.50/square foot for wall insulation
- $.40/square foot for floor insulation
- $250 for heat pump controls
- $1,250 for an efficient heat pump*
- $1,000 for a ductless heat pump
- $1,000 for a high efficiency gas furnace
- $270 for a heat pump water heater tier 3
(* – limited time extra offer to be completed by May 31st)
Oregon On-Bill Repayment
Looking for a loan? Energy Trust offers loans that can be paid back easily, as they’re bundled into your monthly utility bill. If you qualify, you’re eligible for a loan of $2,500 to $10,000 at a rate of 6.49%. This loan is restricted to residents of Oregon who own a single-family home, condo or townhome. You also must be a customer of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, or NW Natural.
Funds from the On-Bill Repayment loan can be put towards the following improvements:
- Heat pump
- Heat pump controls
- Extended capacity heat pump
- Ductless heat pump
- Central AC
- Ceiling, wall, or floor insulation
Take not that an Oregon On-Bill Repayment CAN be combined with a Savings in Reach cash back offer, so long as you qualify for both.
Interested in Going Solar?
Solar panels seem like a no brainer so long as your roof gets enough sun, right? They last for up to 25 years and give you the power, literally. But between purchasing the panels and installing them, the upfront costs add up quickly. It’s no wonder many households believe solar energy is beyond their reach.
But, hey, we’re talking about Portland here! Of course programs exist out there to make going solar more achievable for all.
Energy Trust of Oregon’s Solar for Your Home
Energy Trust of Oregon partners with Portland General Electric and Pacific Power to incentivize solar energy. To qualify, you must live in Oregon, be a customer of one of these electric companies, and use an Energy Trust of Oregon approved contractor. (They will help you find one, not to worry.) Aside from a federal tax credit, you can also hope to see the following incentives:
- Portland General Electric: $0.30 per watt for a $2,400 household maximum
- Pacific Power: $0.20 per watt for a $1,200 household maximum
PGE also offers a service called “net metering.” Essentially, if you generate your own solar energy, PGE will credit your account for any excess power generated by your solar panels.
Energy Trust of Oregon’s Solar Within Reach
Just as with their energy efficiency programs, ETO also offers an income-qualified program for solar energy. To qualify you must meet their maximum income requirements – $99,934 for a household of four. If you qualify, you can look forward to the following incentives:
- Portland General Electric: $1.50 per watt for a $9,000 household maximum
- Pacific Power: $0.90 per watt for a $5,400 household maximum
Not too shabby! And the income requirements are plainly listed out, making it easy to see at a glance whether or not you should apply.
Don’t Forget to Ask Your Local Bank about Financing
Before you assume that there’s no way you’ll be able to afford solar panels, check with your local banks. These days, many lending institutions also offer incentives for loans used for renewable energy. OnPoint Community Credit Union, for example, just renewed its commitment to a greener future in April. Their Green Horizons Initiative provides special rate discounts on hybrid and electric vehicles as well as solar panels. You must be a member to qualify.
Don’t bank with OnPoint? It’s worth sitting down with someone at your trusted bank to see what they can do for you. You might be able to lock in a low rate to finance your solar future!