Q: How much does a Home Performance with Energy Star cost?
A: $200 – $500 depending on the home, how far the contractor needs to travel, and the equipment used (e.g., thermal imaging camera, blower door). Some contractors may refund a portion of the cost if you hire them to complete energy efficiency upgrades.
Q: Does fiberglass insulation contain formaldehyde?
A: Fiberglass insulation no longer contains formaldehyde.
Q: Is fiberglass insulation made from recycled content?
A: Some brands of fiberglass insulation are now manufactured with post consumer recycled glass . However, the percentage of recycled content varies by brand.
Q: What is the minimum temperature at which I can set my water heater if I have a dishwasher?
A: Automatic dishwashers have specific temperature requirements. If yours has a booster heater, the water must come into the dishwasher at 120 degrees for the booster to heat the water to the required temperature. However, other dishwasher models require the water to be at 130 or even 140 degrees, so consult your owner manual or the manufacturer to determine the correct temperature.
If you do not have a dishwasher, the recommended water temperature, taking into account safety and energy conservation, is 120 degrees.
Q: Can you have an electric and gas backup to solar hot water?
A: You can have either an electric or gas backup to solar hot water.
Q: What are advantages of ductless heat pumps over ducted systems?
A: Ductless heat pumps are more versatile and can be used regardless of the age, insulation levels, or layout of the home. There are no losses associated with duct work. Ductless heat pumps are also easier to maintain than ducted heat pump systems because the coils are easier to access and clean.
Q: I’ve heard that heat pumps have efficiencies of 200-300%. How is that possible?
Q: What do I need to consider about efficiency when purchasing a gas furnace?
A: Gas furnaces are rated by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). However, this does not account for the electricity used by the furnace’s blower fan. The fan can use 400-600 watts and can result in an energy cost of up to approximately $250 per year. Installing a variable speed motor can result in large energy savings, especially for residents who leave the fan on all the time because of allergy or other air quality issues.
Appliances, Windows, and Solar
Q: When will incandescent light bulbs no longer be sold in the US?
A: They will be phased out between 2012 and 2014, though many countries have already phased them out. However, halogen light bulbs will still be available.
Q: Can you recycle windows?
A: You can recycle aluminum frames at the Allied Waste Depot. You cannot recycle window glass, but you can turn it into a greenhouse: http://thistinyhouse.com/2010/the-perfect-little-greenhouse/
Q: How can I find out how efficient my refrigerator is?
A: The Energy Star Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator can help:
Q: Does the Department of Energy (DOE) check their Energy Star list for mistakes?
A: The DOE is in the process of refining their Energy Star list.
Q: Is it better to cover or remover your air conditioner in the winter?
A: It is more energy efficient to remove it but if this isn’t possible, covering it will reduce heat loss.
Q: Do you have to clean refrigerator coils on newer Energy Star models?
A: Most new models are designed with smaller compressors in a tight area so the coils do not need to be cleaned as often, though it is still a good idea to maintain them. (We’ll post more detailed information soon!)
Q: Is there a tax credit for solar (sun) tubes?
A: Energy Star rated solar tubes can qualify for a tax credit (30% of the cost, not including installation/labor costs, up to $1,500). Find out more: http://energystar.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/energystar.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=5760&p_created=1241110856
Q: I’m a landlord. What types of incentives and tax credits are available for my rentals?
A: Energy Trust incentives apply to rental homes. Single-family rentals fall under the standard residential program. Duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes can qualify for incentives through the small multifamily program (read more: http://energytrust.org/residential/small-multifamily/).
State tax credits are available for rentals through the Business Energy Tax Credits (read more: http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/CONS/BUS/BETC.shtml).
Federal tax credits do not apply to rentals.
Q: What financial programs are available to renters?
A: Renters are eligible for Community Services Consortium services, the Corvallis Weatherization Incentive Program, Sate Tax Credits, and Energy Trust incentives. Property owner approval is required for all programs. Federal Tax Credit and the Corvallis Revolving Loan Fund are not available for renters.
Q: What is the coverage area for low income weatherization assistance from Community Services Consortium (CSC)?
A: Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties.
They have promotional materials available at their office. We will also have copies at the next Energy Advocate meeting on October 20th.
Q: Is there money available for energy efficiency house upgrades low-income residents through the City of Corvallis?
A: The City of Corvallis has two programs:
The Essential Repair Program offers differed loans with no interest for households below 50% of the area median income. The loans are repaid when the resident sells the home.
The Neighborhood Improvement Program offers 2% interest loans for households that fall within 50 to 80% of the area median income.
Please contact the Corvallis Housing Department for more information, 541-766-6944
Community Services Consortium also provides free weatherization for low-income residents in Benton, Linn and Lincoln Counties. Please contact Kathy Stroud at Community Services Consortium for more information: 541-758-2627.
Q: Does the $1,500 tax credit double for married people filing a joint tax return?
A: No, the $1,500 tax credit does not double for married people filing jointly… unless both you and your spouse owned and lived apart in separate main homes.
Q: Do Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO) incentives always go directly to the contractor?
A: ETO incentives usually goes to the homeowner, but you can make an agreement with your contractor and pass the incentive directly to the contractor, though that is uncommon. However, solar incentives always go directly to the contractor.
Q: Do you have to use an Energy Trust of Oregon Trade Ally contractor to get incentives?
A: Only for solar electric and solar hot water.
Q: Can you receive an Energy Trust of Oregon incentive for multiple refrigerators?
A: Yes. Energy Trust of Oregon will pick up refrigerators free of charge and you’ll receive a $30 incentive. For program requirements, visit: https://www.jacoinc.net/weborder/rebatex.aspx?ProgramID=33
Working with Contractors
Q: How much is this project going to cost?
A: We encourage you to request project bids from at least two contractors because contractor prices can vary significantly. For example, one of our Energy Advocate volunteers received an estimate of $1,508 and another estimate of $490 for home insulation. If you receive two significantly different estimates, be sure the estimates include the same components before selecting a contractor.
Q: I’d like to make my historic home as energy efficient as possible. What do I need to know?
A: For information about historic preservation in Corvallis, visit the City’s website: http://www.ci.corvallis.or.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1410&Itemid=1745
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has an interactive historic home website that allows you to explore renovation possibilities and energy efficiency: http://tusculum.sbc.edu/toolkit/preservation-house.html.
Nantucket’s Sustainable Preservation document provides a comprehensive overview of historic home retrofits: http://www.nantucket-ma.gov/Pages/NantucketMA_HistDist/Sustainable%20Preservation%20-%20Final.pdf