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How Green is Your Portland Home

How Green is Your Portland Home

How energy efficient is your Portland home? Many homeowners are not sure how to answer this question. In this guide, we will explore the different ways you can measure your home’s energy efficiency. We will also discuss average energy bills and home energy scores in Portland. By understanding how green your Portland home is, you can take steps to make it even more energy efficient. Check out our green home evaluation and see how your home stacks up.

Oregon Energy Statistics

Energy costs can have a big impact on household budgets and beyond. The mild weather of Oregon’s most populated areas is a big determining factor in how energy is used in the state. To understand how Oregon energy use is calculated here are some definitions:

  • Energy use is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU).
  • A BTU is approximately the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. It can also be thought of as the amount of energy released by one burning match.
  • One watt of energy is about 3.412 BTU per hour.
  • One kilowatt-hour (kWh) is equal to the amount of energy used to keep a single 1000 watt appliance running for one hour.

How much energy does the average Oregon home consume?

Because much of Oregon’s population lives in the mild climate of the Willamette Valley and Pacific Coast regions, the average home uses about 976 kWh per month making it one of the lowest ranking states in total energy use and total expenditures per capita.

How does Oregon’s energy consumption compare to other states?

Natural gas and hydroelectric power are the two main sources of energy consumption in Oregon state. Oregon ranks 38th out of 50 states in the US for energy consumption which means Oregonians use less energy BTUs per capita than three-fourths of all states.

Some notable statistics for Oregon energy consumption:

  • Oregon’s total and per capita natural gas consumption is less than two-thirds of all states.
  • Oregon’s total electricity retail sales per capita are near the U.S. average. The residential sector, where about half the households heat with electricity, accounts for almost two-fifths of Oregon’s electricity retail sales in 2020.
  • In 2020, hydroelectric power accounted for 50 percent of Oregon’s electricity generation.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

How much do Oregon residents pay for energy?

Annual energy bills are easy to calculate. Simply multiply the amount of energy you use in a month by the rate per kWh in your area then multiply that number by 12 months to get the annual amount. In Oregon, the total energy expenses per capita in 2019 was $3,349, ranking it 43rd out of 50 states.

Portland Energy Statistics

Electricity is an essential part of life in the modern world. The average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer in 2020 was 10,715 kWh, an average of about 893 kWh per month.

This includes light bulbs, appliances, devices, HVAC systems, computers, heating water, and electric cars. In Portland, there are significant efforts by local governments to help homeowners get their electricity from renewable power options.

What is the average home electricity bill for Portland?

The average monthly electric bill for Portland residents is about $109.45 a month which is slightly lower than the national average of $118.93. PGE’s average residential price per kWh is 13.27 cents which is slightly lower than the national average of 15 cents per kWh.

Where does Portland get its energy from?

Portland General Electric (PGE) is the utility that provides Portland with energy. Water, wind, natural gas, solar, and a small amount of coal are the variety of energy options that PGE uses to generate energy for Portland residents. If you are interested in seeing real-time electricity use and demand you can check out the Hourly Electric Grid Monitor.

What is the average gas bill for Portland?

In 2022, NW Natural, which supplies natural gas to most of northwest Oregon, including Portland, has proposed an increase in the average residential bill from $62.96 to $69.76 per month. If approved the rate increase would go into effect on November 1st. This is the second rate hike in a few years. In 2021, NW Natural residential customers had a rate increase of almost 13 percent.

Home Energy Consumption

Residential energy consumption is the third largest use of energy in the United States. Around sixty-five percent of that energy is used for space heating and cooling, while water heating accounts for an additional 14 percent.

Overall energy use in the average U.S. home has declined over the past few decades due in large part to more energy-efficient appliances, windows, and insulation.

sources of home energy consumption

What sources consume the most energy?

All the energy use adds up. While smaller electronics like laptops and TVs are low on power usage other household appliances are big energy consumers.

  • HVAC: 42%
  • Heating: 28%
  • Air Conditioning: 14%
  • Lighting: 12%
  • Water Heating: 14%

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

How is a “Green” Home Measured?

The Home Energy Score is a uniform rating system for predicting home energy use based on the “envelope”, energy systems, and square footage of your home. The one-hour assessment is conducted by a Home Energy Score Certified Assessor who collects data about the home and then uses software to estimate annual house energy use.

example home energy score of portland
Example Home Energy Score

Home Energy Score Explained

There are a variety of factors that a Home Energy Score Certified Assessor looks at within and without your home. The assessment takes about an hour and, in Portland, is a requirement before the sale of the home.

The envelope of your home includes:

  • foundation
  • roof
  • walls
  • insulation
  • windows

Other factors that are taken into account are:

  • heating and cooling
  • hot water systems
  • fuel type
  • weather
  • occupant behavior
what is a home envelope

A home energy score (HES) is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a home with high energy use and 10 being a home with low energy use. Once the score is calculated recommendations are made that give details on the types of home improvements that can lower energy costs.

Average Portland Home Energy Scores

Portland was one of the first cities in the U.S. to require home energy score assessments before a home is listed. On average, homes in Portland rank about 4.7 HES.

One of the benefits of getting a HES before a homeowner sells is that it offers an opportunity for the seller to improve the property before the sale, which can increase the home’s market value.

home energy scores of portland

Top Recommendations for Low-Scoring Homes

The most common recommended improvements for homes in Portland include:

  • sealing gaps and cracks that allow air leakage into the home
  • sealing ducts to reduce airflow leakage
  • upgrading HVAC to energy-efficient heat pumps
  • insulating exterior walls, attic, basement, and crawl spaces

How Green is YOUR Home?

There are many factors that influence your home’s green efficiency beyond just how you use energy. Find out how well your house stacks up and what you can do to improve your home’s green score and energy efficiency.

Is your house south or north-facing?

The orientation of your home is determined by where the front door is. Direction affects how much light and sun energy it receives. South-facing homes retain radiant heat in winter but are harder to cool in summer.

Do you have modern, updated windows?

Older, single-pane windows do a poor job of keeping out heat and cold while upgrading to energy-efficient windows can save 7 to 15 percent on annual household energy bills.

What type of lighting is used in your home?

Lighting can be up to 15 percent of a home’s energy use. LED and compact fluorescent lighting uses up to 90 percent less energy than incandescent and lasts longer.

Have you had your ducts inspected for leaks?

Leaky ductwork may be costing you money and wasting energy. Having your ducts inspected periodically can ensure your system is working optimally.

Do you seal up drafty doors?

Applying weather strips to your doors will not only make your home more comfortable but also save energy and stress on your HVAC system constantly trying to keep up.

Do you use your window treatments optimally?

Window shades, blinds, and drapes can help keep out heat in the summer and cold in the winter by closing them at peak cold or hot times of the day. If you have a home that is in the direct sun, window treatments can be opened during the winter to allow the sun to provide warmth while being used in the summer to deflect the sun’s hot rays.

Do you recycle?

Recycling paper, glass, and plastic reduces landfill waste while composting kitchen scraps can save money by strengthening your yard and garden soil at no cost.

Do you adjust the thermostat and use ceiling fans?

Ceiling fans can help you feel as much as 4 to 5 degrees cooler, allowing you to raise your air conditioner’s thermostat temperature by the same amount while maintaining comfort.

Do you turn off power strips when not in use?

Vampire loads such as laptops, TVs, and cable boxes continue to use energy even when not in use if they are plugged into an outlet or traditional power strip. Smart power strips that detect when a device is in standby mode actually cuts off power and save energy.

At what temperature do you wash your clothes?

Washing a full load of laundry with cold water and cold water detergents saves electricity on heating water.

How many energy-efficient appliances do you have?

Energy-efficient appliances are one of the easiest ways to lower your energy bill. Look for Energy Star rated:

Do you use eco-friendly products?

Eco-friendly products are made with sustainable materials that are often recycled, using less energy and reducing harmful toxins and chemicals.

Do you have solar power?

Solar power takes advantage of the sun and provides clean alternative energy for your home, saving both money and the environment.

Do you reduce water usage?

Droughts mean that many in the world do not have access to clean, safe water. Two of the best ways to save water are water-saving appliances and fixtures and reducing your water use habits, like taking a shorter shower.

Do you use reusable containers?

An easy and sustainable way to keep plastic out of our landfills is to use a reusable container that can be easily taken with you wherever you go.

Do you buy local?

Buying locally not only helps the local economy but also reduces transportation costs. Buying local produce and goods means that you are getting the freshest available in your area.

Tips for Improving the Energy Efficiency of Your Portland Home

It is easy to get stuck in what to do to make your home more energy-efficient. There are small and big steps each homeowner can take to improve the energy efficiency of their home. Including:  

  • Replacing older windows with energy-efficient windows
  • Changing out older devices with energy-efficient appliances
  • Slowly moving towards energy-efficient lighting
  • Consider solar power
  • Installing low flow showerheads for water conservation
  • Improving home insulation
  • Weatherproofing your home
  • Draft proofing your home
  • Upgrading your thermostat to a smart thermostat
  • Upgrading your HVAC system to an Energy Star rated system

By following the tips above, you can make your Portland home even more energy-efficient and sustainable. Not only will you be doing your part to help the environment but also saving money on energy bills.

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How Jacobs Can Help

Since heating and cooling systems are a significant part of your home’s energy use, upgrading your HVAC system will improve the energy efficiency of your home and save you money.  Our Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning consultants will evaluate your home to ensure you have the best AC, furnace, or heat pump system for your home and comfort while lowering your carbon footprint, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and providing long-term savings.

Need to get your HVAC system running in tip-top condition? You can schedule a tune-up for your existing system, get on a maintenance plan or we can guide you through the decision-making process as you find the HVAC system that works best for you. No matter what you need we’re always just a phone call away. You are welcome to review our statement on COVID-19 and how we’re taking precautions to protect you, our team, and our communities.

About the Author

Amanda Jacobs portrait

Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.