Cash Back + Tax Incentives = Affordable Energy-Efficient Home Upgrades

If you’re thinking about an energy-efficient home upgrade but are worried about the cost, I have good news for you: several programs can make this a smart financial choice for 2014. Energy Trust provides cash incentives for energy-efficient upgrades to single-family and multifamily site-built homes, and many upgrades are also eligible for state and federal tax credits.  

It is worth checking out all the available options—there are a surprisingly high number of cash incentives—but here are some of my favorites:


Energy Trust gives cash back to eligible homeowners who install their own Energy Trust-verified insulation—check their website for details. Incentives for electric- and gas-heated homes range from $0.25 per square foot to $0.30 per square foot. Additionally, you can take advantage of a federal tax credit that allows you to deduct 10% of the cost of materials (up to $500).

Heat Pumps 

Energy Trust also offers cash back for an upgrade to a high-efficiency heat pump, which can save you money on heating and cooling in the long run. Incentives range from $250 to $700. Additionally, Energy Trust offers $250 cash back for installing a qualifying heat pump advanced control if installed by a contractor with an Oregon Construction Contractors Board License.

Solar Incentives

Reading about Oregon’s solar incentives makes me think this might be the year for my big solar upgrade! Energy Trust provides funding to reduce the upfront cost of installing a qualified home solar electric system. The cash amount depends on the size of the solar electric system and your electric utility. You can get $0.75 per wattDC if you use Pacific Power (maximum incentive $7,500) or $1.00 per wattDC if you are with Portland General Electric (maximum incentive $10,000). There are also incentive options for leasing, if a purchase is still not in the cards for you. Best of all, this incentive is offered up-front, meaning less out of your pocket. And, there are federal tax credits that credit your taxes up to 30% of the cost of a solar, geothermal, or wind turbine unit—with no maximum.

Another great program you should check out is Clean Energy Works of Oregon  

I’ve tried it, and I love it! A couple of years ago I went through this program to make several upgrades I had been talking about for years—a tankless hot water heater, a new furnace, and weatherization. I worked with a great team, and in a short couple weeks, everything was installed. Incredibly, I paid no money upfront. Instead, the installation costs were spread out over many years on my NW Natural Gas bill. The good news is, even with these costs on my bill, my bill has never been lower.

Happy Home Improvements!