Electricity prices are climbing in Oregon and across the United States. The average monthly electricity bill in Oregon is about $140 a month and about $1,680 per year. Power rate hikes impacted most Oregonians, effective January 1.
For example, average household electricity bills increased by $19.45 or 21% for Pacific Power customers. Electricity prices increased for Portland General Electric (PGE) last May 2022 and then again on the first of the year. Roughly ¾ of Americans worry about their utility or electricity bills, and recent rate hikes will likely make this worse.
Although economists expect overall inflation to ease, energy experts expect electricity rates to continue climbing. Mark Wolfe, director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, believes electricity prices could increase another 10% this year and possibly again next year. High electric bills are causing many Oregonians to look for ways to lower them, especially as the dog days of summer are upon us.
Although renters in Oregon have some ways to reduce their utility bills, homeowners do have more options. For example, installing an energy-efficient heat pump instead of using an electric baseboard or furnace system can save a lot of power. Likewise, installing a rooftop solar system can virtually eliminate monthly power bills. Let’s explore the most effective ways to have affordable electric bills without sacrificing home comfort.
Use Energy-saving Window Treatments
This energy-saving tip can help reduce your heating and cooling bills. In the winter, windows can cool your house down. Using energy-saving window treatments is especially helpful at night and for north-facing windows because there are no solar heat gains from these windows. Insulated window coverings, such as insulated cellular shades with a tight fit around the window frame, increase the R-value when drawn by reducing heat conduction. They can also increase privacy and make spending time near drafty windows more comfortable.
We’ve been having some extreme heat waves in the summers recently in Oregon, which can cause really high electricity bills. Windows can cause your home to heat up in the summer, especially if the window gets direct sunlight. Unfortunately, this makes your air conditioner work harder, driving up your electric bill. Installing curtains, roller or roman shades, blinds, and even window films can reduce unwanted heat gain in the summer. Window shades allow your air conditioner to run less, lowering your electricity bill while maintaining home comfort. It also helps reduce strain on the electricity grid by helping to lower peak energy demand in Oregon.
Reduce Hot Water Use
Decreasing your use of hot water will reduce your water heating bill. Turn off the water whenever you aren’t actively using it, like when brushing your teeth or loading the dishwasher. Fix leaky faucets right away because warm water leaks waste both energy and water. You can fix most leaks by just replacing the washer.
Washing clothes in cold water helps prevent fading and saves energy, especially with top-loading washing machines that use a lot of water. Also, using an efficient dishwasher usually conserves water and energy compared to washing dishes by hand. Whenever possible, rinse dirty dishes (if needed) with cold water before loading them in the dishwasher.
Installing a water-saving shower head is an easy way to cut utility bills instantly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average household could save 2,700 gallons of water annually by installing a WaterSense labeled shower head that uses 1.6 gallons per minute or less.
In addition to saving water, this simple action will also conserve energy because your water heater will operate less. Most of the water from our shower heads is heated, so a water-saving shower head can lower your energy bills. If you have an electric water heater, this will reduce your power bill. If you have a gas water heater, it will lower your gas bill. Likewise, if you have a well pump, it will operate less, saving electricity.
Use LED Light Bulbs
If you are using incandescent and even fluorescent light bulbs, swapping them out for LED light bulbs is the easiest way to cut home energy use. Incandescent bulbs produce heat, so they waste a lot of energy as heat. Also, you don’t want that extra home heat in the summer when you are trying to stay cool.
The average Oregon home can save over $11 a month by switching from incandescent to LED light bulbs. That means this easy home energy upgrade can pay for itself in monthly electricity bill savings in less than a year. It’s especially important to swap out incandescent light bulbs in fixtures that are on for long periods because they consume the most electricity. Also, LED bulbs last longer, so you won’t need to replace your light bulbs as often, which saves money and conserves resources.
Weatherize Your Home
Insulating and air sealing your home are excellent ways to make your HVAC system work less while increasing home comfort and even possibly indoor air quality. Although insulating walls, floors, ceilings, and attics is time-consuming, some homeowners do it as a weekend DIY project or hire a home insulation contractor.
Some homeowners hire weatherization experts to assess the air tightness of their homes, while others look for gaps themselves. The U.S. Department of Energy has some tips on creating a building pressurization test using fans and incense to identify gaps.
Air sealing your home involves closing gaps and cracks that leak conditioned air out of your home. As a renter, it might be something that your landlord would allow you to do.
Air sealing your home involves:
- Caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors with air leaks
- Caulking and weatherstripping plumbing, duct work, and electrical wiring that comes through floors, walls, and ceilings
- Installing foam gaskets behind electrical outlets and switch plates
Install a Home Solar Panel System
One of the very best ways to virtually eliminate your monthly electric bills is to install a solar energy system. From Portland to Hermiston, Salem, and Roseburg, rooftop solar systems can produce most or all of your electricity.
The federal tax credits for installing solar panels have increased to 30% for residential solar PV systems. Therefore, installing an $18,000 solar power system could qualify for a $5,400 federal income tax credit. Speak with a tax expert to ensure you are eligible for this valuable solar energy incentive.
Oregon net metering laws ensure that solar homeowners receive compensation for surplus solar electricity they feed to the grid with solar credits on their energy bills. On sunny days, your solar panels will often produce more energy than your home consumes. However, at night and on cloudy days, you will need more electricity than your PV modules are generating. Net metering programs ensure you are compensated at a retail rate for the electricity you provide.
Use Energy-efficient Appliances
Inefficient appliances, including refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, clothes dryers, and dishwashers can significantly increase your electricity bills and increase your carbon footprint. When buying new appliances, look for efficient ones by getting ENERGY STAR-certified units.
Take Advantage of Oregon Energy Efficiency Incentives (If You Qualify)
There are income-qualified programs that help Oregonians lower their energy bills, while increasing home comfort.
This organization offers weatherization and energy conservation services for Oregon households, including free:
- Air sealing
- Ceiling, wall, and floor insulation
- Furnace repair or replacement
- Heating duct improvements
- Minor energy-related home repairs
Income qualifications: Homeowners must earn less than 200% of the federal poverty income level.
How it works: OHCS home energy efficiency programs are administered by local community-based organizations in Oregon, so visit its website to find a community action agency near you. The process starts with a home energy audit to identify ways to increase home performance while minimizing air infiltration.
Apply with your local agency: A variety of organizations oversee this program, and it depends on the county where you live. Visit the OHCS website for a full listing of local home weatherization organizations.
Note that these programs are administered by county, and some cities in Oregon are located in two or even three counties. For example, Lake Oswego is in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. In this case, contact the agency that corresponds with the county where your home is located.
Including the cities of
Lake Oswego, Oregon City, West Linn, Happy Valley, Milwaukee, Canby, Oak Grove
Roseburg, Sutherlin, Green, Winston
Grants Pass, Williams, Selma
Eugene, Springfield, Elmira, Cottage Grove, Florence
Albany, Lebanon, Sweet Home
Salem, Keizer, Woodburn, Hayesville, Four Corners, Silverton
Portland, Gresham, Troutdale
Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard, Aloha, Forest Grove, Tualatin,
For a full list of local agencies for home weatherization in other Oregon counties, click here.
This organization serves Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas, and Avista customers, and oversees the Savings Within Reach Program. To qualify, households must meet income requirements.
Energy Trust of Oregon offers weatherization and energy-efficiency upgrades services and upgrades for Oregon households, including:
- Incentives for attic, wall, and floor insulation
- Incentives for energy-saving heating systems, including efficient heat pumps and furnaces
- Free air sealing, duct repair, LED light bulbs, and water-saving products
Community Energy Project
This organization helps promote healthy homes and clean energy use by promoting energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. This organization offers a variety of services, some specifically for income-qualified households, seniors, or people with disabilities. Its services include:
- Community education classes on the benefits of a home solar energy system, summer weatherization, and winter weatherization
- Energy-efficiency upgrades
- Energy-saving home consultation
Frequently Asked Questions About Lowering Electricity Bills in Oregon
Let’s examine some common questions that Oregonians have about cutting their monthly utility bills.
Can I join a community solar farm in Oregon to lower my electricity bills?
Oregon has community solar farms that can modestly reduce your electricity bills and benefit the environment by conserving fossil fuel use. These projects are an excellent way for renters and people with shaded properties to take advantage of solar energy savings on their power bills by using renewable energy. However, these programs can only modestly reduce your electricity bill. The energy-bill savings for community solar farms in Oregon are usually around 5%.
If you own a home and have a relatively sunny property, installing a rooftop solar photovoltaic system can lower your total electricity bills significantly more than joining a community solar farm. Refer to our blog post about community solar farms to understand why buying a solar system can lead to more significant financial savings.
What Oregon electric companies offer net metering for solar power?
The following electric companies and coops compensate solar panel system owners for the extra power they feed to the utility grid.
- City of Ashland
- City of Bandon
- Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative
- Canby Utility Board
- City of Cascade Locks
- Central Electric Cooperative
- Central Lincoln PUD
- Clatskanie People’s Utility District
- Clearwater Power Company
- Columbia Basin Electric Cooperative
- Columbia River Peoples Utility District
- Columbia Power Coop Association
- Columbia Rural Electric Association
- Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative
- Consumers Power
- Douglas Electric Cooperative
- City of Drain
- Emerald People’s Utility District
- City of Eugene
- City of Forest Grove
- City of Hermiston
- Hood River Electric Cooperative
- Lane Electric Cooperative
- Harney Electric Cooperative
- City of McMinnville
- Midstate Electric Cooperative
- City of Milton-Freewater
- City of Monmouth
- Northern Wasco County PUD
- Oregon Trail El Cons Cooperative
- Portland General Electric
- Salem Electric
- City of Springfield
- Surprise Valley Electrification Corporation
- Tillamook Peoples Utility District
- Umatilla Electric Cooperative Association
- Wasco Electric Cooperative
- West Oregon Electric Cooperative
Will installing an electric vehicle (EV) charger significantly increase my electricity bills?
Driving an EV and charging it at home can noticeably increase your power bills, but it will save you money from having to buy gasoline. One of the easiest ways to offset this increased energy use is with a rooftop solar system.
The Smart Solar Energy team is skilled in sizing and designing home solar systems that provide the most value and electricity bill savings. During your home energy audit with one of our solar energy experts, make sure you mention that you want to install an EV charger, and we can size your system accordingly.
Want to learn more about a solar energy system for your home?