By Rose King
For the Hollywood Star News
Portland is well known for being a green city, where people ride bikes, enjoy the outdoors and eat local organic foods often purchased from their neighborhood farmers market.
It’s no surprise that demand for energy efficient, high performing homes goes hand-in-hand with the ethos of sustainability at the heart of Portland’s communities.
Since 2008, more than 40 percent of new homes built within the city of Portland have been certified green, meaning they qualified for building standards like Energy Star, LEED for Homes, Passive House or Earth Advantage Home Certification.
And the new housing market is just the tip of the iceberg. Homeowners are also bringing inefficient older homes into the 21st century, for more energy savings and comfort.
Over the years, Clean Energy Works – the Northwest’s largest non-profit home performance provider – has helped homeowners upgrade more than 4,500 homes across Oregon, creating more comfortable and more efficient places to live. More than a quarter of those homeowners live in North and Northeast Portland.
Although homeowners often come to Clean Energy Works looking to cut their utility bills or increase comfort in their homes, many are starting to realize that energy efficiency upgrades are also an avenue to increase their home’s value and selling power.
Case in point: Alex Pasco.
Pasco’s home was an old English cottage, built in 1938 and extremely inefficient.
“We had actually sworn off our upstairs bedroom because on cold nights, we could literally feel a breeze come through the walls,” Pasco said.
His wife was expecting a child in 2010 so they moved into that frigid upstairs bedroom to make room for the baby. After nearly two years, they decided they couldn’t stand it anymore – it was time to call Clean Energy Works. Sealing up cracks cut drafts and adding new insulation, alongside a new water heater and modern furnace went a long way toward keeping his home warm in winter and cool in summer.
But that’s not all. Pasco’s energy savings were greater than his loan payment for the upgrades, and he was able to pay for the work monthly on his utility bill, with Clean Energy Work’s easy on-bill financing program.
“We spent the same on our energy bill, even with our loan payment. In fact, in the fall and spring, it was actually lower,” he said.
When selling his home earlier this year, Pasco was also able to increase the asking price by $10,000 because of all the upgrades.
“We made improvements potential buyers want to see,” said Pasco. “The investment paid for itself and then some.”
According to a recent survey from the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors, 74 percent of Portland area residents think it’s important to know the energy performance of a home before the purchase. The majority also said they’d be willing to pay more for a house if it had better energy performance.
Marshall Runkel is another great example.
Runkel’s North Portland home is an old craftsman, built in 1910. He made a number of upgrades last year, including insulation and air sealing, modern windows, plus a new water heater and furnace.
“Our utility bills are down by half,” said Runkel. “But the value of increased comfort and having a happy, healthier home for my family to live in is immeasurable.”
After having his home appraised in March, Runkel discovered that the value increased by $13,000 as a result of the upgrades performed.
When asked how homeowners can get the most value for efficiency upgrades, Taylor Watkins—residential appraiser and national expert in valuing energy efficiency—had this to say:
“Energy upgrades performed to a home aren’t readily observable and may go overlooked. It’s better to over share with your realtor and appraiser. More information is always better.”
Clean Energy Works offers a unique “one-stop shop” for energy efficiency upgrades, making it easier to improve the performance of homes. The organization provides homeowners with everything needed to complete upgrades, including rebates, skilled contractors, no-money-down financing and a performance check that illuminates opportunities to improve a home’s performance.
Clean Energy Works offers homeowners a free 100-Point Performance Check (worth $250) to pinpoint essential upgrades needed to optimize their home. Apply with promo code CE100 at www.cewo.org.