Oregon Department of Energy

Oregon Department of Energy

Energy Conservation and Home Energy Score Programs in Oregon

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In this article, we delve into a conversation with Roger Kainu is an Analyst, and Blake Shelide is a Facilities Engineer, both from the State of Oregon Department of Energy.The stated mission of the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) is to help Oregonians make informed choices in regards to having an affordable energy set up as well as to maintain a resilient system, that will advance clean energy to help protect the environment and public health.

Department of Energy Functions

The ODOE serves as a resource and repository of energy data, information, and in-depth analysis. It also provides information to help solve problems for Oregon's energy challenges. It also offers energy education and technical assistance, plus advises on regulations and provides oversight within the energy industry. Also, the department is active in various energy programs and activities.

Incentive Rebate/Credit Based Programs

ODOE promotes solar and battery storage incentives for homeowners, as well as incentives for energy efficient heat pumps. The Inflation Reduction Act provides federal funding for energy efficient equipment.

Energy Codes and Guidelines

Oregon has statewide standard energy codes, which include the Oregon Residential Specialty Code, Chapter 11, which outlines energy efficiency code requirements. They have an Energy Code Hotline which assists with specific code requirements. There is a 2023 target for a code update to have Zero Energy Ready Home as the standard.

Zero Energy

Zero Energy buildings generate enough onsite renewable energy to offset onsite consumption over a period of a year. A Zero Energy Ready building is efficient enough for homeowners to feasibly achieve net zero with onsite renewable energy installation such as solar.


You can check with your local building departments to provide code requirements. Plus the Oregon Department of Energy's code hotline provides assistance. The Energy Trust of Oregon and utility companies also have high-performance building programs.

Federal Funding

Federal funding applies to all states and there is both efficiency and performance requirements in order to obtain funding. Oregon's strong energy infrastructure makes program implementation easier.

Energy Codes Application

Oregon has a statewide uniform energy code, which helps to ensure consistent code compliance across the state and maintain uniformity.

Understanding Oregon's Energy Codes and Heat Pumps

Roger Kainu and Blake Shelide discuss Oregon Energy Codes, their statewide application, and historically high compliance rates. They mention there is variation in code enforcement and inspections by region. A new program, the Home Energy Score program, has assessors certified by the state provide energy performance ratings for homes. This is a special certification that is required in Portland and optional in other areas.

Heat Pumps

Various heating systems include electric resistance, gas furnaces, and heat pumps. Heat pump efficiency ranges from 200-300% and works by moving heat from outside to inside the home. Colder climate heat pumps provide sufficient heat even in low temperatures, and backup heat sources typically include electric resistance or gas furnaces. Older heat pumps are not as efficient though. Incremental efficiency improvements are made to heat pump technology, and replacing electric resistance heating systems with heat pumps is encouraged. Types of heat pumps include whole home distribution systems and ductless heat pumps.

Home Energy Score Programs in Oregon

Oregon introduced a statewide scoring tool in 2009. Certified and licensed assessors evaluate 40 different home variables. A good comparison would be miles per gallon ratings for cars. Home Energy Scores provide valuable information for buyers and sellers. The Home Energy Score program in Oregon goal is to provide an energy efficiency rating for homes. This would  help potential buyers make better informed decisions as energy can be a big factor in housing costs.

The program began in Eugene and later expanded to other cities like Portland, Milwaukee, and Hillsborough. While some cities such as Portland have mandatory programs, others offer voluntary options for homeowners. State-certified assessors evaluate various aspects of a home, such as windows, HVAC systems, and insulation, to provide a score on a scale of 1-10 and offer recommendations for improvements. A home with a good energy score will be more attractive to most buyers and can be a good marketing factor for sellers.

 Additional information at Website; oregon.gov/energy

Check for the latest information on rebates, grants for things such as heat pumps, solar and solar storage. 

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