Did you know that you can have a professional representative from Energy Trust of Oregon visit your home and assess the property's energy efficiency...for free? I will admit that I did not - until I recently became a homeowner and was encouraged to look into this service by my Realtor, Rachel Freed. So I made an appointment, and this morning I met Rocky (pictured), who took me on a one-hour guided tour of my home's energy efficiency.
Rocky's job is varied. He checks the insulation levels in the walls, attic, basement, etc. He inspects the efficiency of your water heater and furnace. He's there to educate you, and advise on ways you can (over time) improve on your energy efficiency - many with cash incentives - with a list of approved 'ally' contractors (all trained to meet Energy Trust standards) who can walk you through the process and ensure you qualify for your rebate.
Rocky is pretty great.
We started with a review of our water usage in our basement ADU. There's a bathroom down there - we utilize the toilet on occasion, but not the shower. Using a dye tablet, Rocky checked to see if we had any cracks or leakage in the plumbing, and gauged that we were flushing away 2.5 gallons of water with each push of the button. Rocky gave us a simple bladder to fill with water and place in the cistern - similar to ye olden days of a brick-in-the-cistern trick - which reduces the amount of water used in a single flush (ours is now 1.75 gallons per flush, thanks Rocky!). He also replaced our faucet aerators in both bathrooms, and checked the downstairs shower head, trading it out with one that distributes the same pressure, with far less water.
Here's some of the other interesting things I learned from this morning's inspection;
* Rocky can replace up to 10 lightbulbs with CFL globes, per household - he even had a special case filled with globes just for this purpose. You can pre-order an Energy Saver Kit on the Energy Trust of Oregon website, specifying which globes you need at the inspection. All at no cost to you.
* He's found that the Energy Performance Score (EPS) is increasingly used as a selling point for Real Estate Agents, especially those representing Sellers. This illustrates that Oregon home Buyers are becoming more savvy of energy efficiency, and are mindful of cutting back on wasteful practices.
* Rocky suggested that we track the charges on our utilities bills, keeping an eye on the fluctuations in different seasons, to help alert us on where to focus our energy conservation efforts. To be honest, we should be doing this already, eek!
* We have storm windows - an original feature of our 1950's home - that aren't exactly energy efficient, but apparently not a huge factor in energy loss. But Rocky did point out that our prehistoric dryer could definitely use an upgrade to a less energy-guzzling model. Plus, we were missing wall insulation, and insulation in our ceiling space. We'll be taking advantage of the available incentives by using one of EToO's recommended contractors to have environmentally-friendly cellulose insulation sprayed in those spaces.
* Energy Trust of Oregon can recycle your old freezer or fridge! That's right - they'll haul it away for you, and, based on the age of the unit, give you a cash incentive of up to $40 to do so. You can also donate this incentive to Oregon Food Bank.
* Rocky pointed out areas where we could insulate pipes against the cold, especially where they rested against the house exterior. This is a simple fix that anyone can do, and makes a difference in the longevity and performance of our plumbing system.
At the end of our inspection, Rocky created a report of the results, and detailed suggested updates and improvements - plus provided plenty of easy-to-follow literature on energy efficiency around the home.
There is far more information and ideas to be found on Energy Trust of Oregon's website, and so much to learn about your home - as an owner, or a renter - that scheduling a free one-hour visit from someone like Rocky is a no-brainer in finding easy, effective ways to save on your energy outage (and therefore your utilities bill). We hope that this post inspires you to make the call, and become more home efficient!