With winter just around the corner, local businesses and organizations are dedicated to helping both homeowners and renters face their rising energy costs through affordable products and sustainable weatherization practices.
For over 33-years, Community Energy Project, Inc., based out of northeast Portland, has empowered local residents to maintain a more energy efficient, healthier, and more livable home and natural environment.
By educating individuals on how to control their utility costs, while simultaneously conserving natural resources, the non-profit lives its belief that people are the experts of their own experience.
“What we have are people with really low income, and the price of energy keeps going up,” said Sherrie Smith, the energy project’s outreach and marketing supervisor.
Created during the energy crisis during the Carter Administration, the organization has helped countless individuals from all walks of life through their free weatherization workshops, where residents can learn how to stop cold drafts in their home by using affordable and simple tools such as scissors and a screwdriver.
“Our workshops are important because they allow everybody to have control over their energy costs, even if they are renting,” said Smith. “If your house is drafty, you’ll love it.”
Recently, there have been a high number of funding cuts to the city’s energy assistance programs, which have helped individuals in the past pay their heating bills. Smith said, however, by taking the workshop, residents can learn how to reduce their reliance on these assistance programs. “The people who take the classes are their own heroes,” she said. “In a way what we are really doing is removing barriers people have to make their own changes.”
Smith said, people who have taken the classes report saving $30, on average, a month after taking a workshop.
Through education, hands-on training, and distribution of weatherization, water conservation, and lead poisoning prevention materials, the Community Energy Project works for a future where all members of the community have affordable homes they live in with dignity for both themselves and the surrounding environment.
And their organization is not alone, said Smith.
A number of local businesses, public and private organizations, and the county are also working with members of the community on ways people can reduce energy costs during the drafty days of winter.
One local business, headquartered in north Portland is Indow Windows, which was founded in 2010 by Chief Executive Officer Sam Pardue who wanted to find a better and less expensive way to insulate the windows in his 1906 Portland Craftsman home.
After a gust of innovation, sustainable and energy efficient designs, “thermal window inserts” emerged, known as the Indow Window.
These custom-manufactured sheets of acrylic glazing are edged with a patent-pending compression, which provide double pane window performance—at a fraction of the cost.
“In these days, everybody is trying to save money with the economy being so tough,” said Pardue. “It can save people between 15 and 30 percent on their energy bills.”
Indow Windows, which simply press into place on the inside of a window frame, create a tight seal without any nails, screws, or adhesives, and provide insulation and energy savings.
Through collaboration with the regional Neil Kelly Company, Indow Windows strives to give homeowners an easy and cost-effective way to insulate their homes, which will also help to create more jobs for local residents throughout the winter months.
“We’re hiring employees as we try to keep up with demand for efficient and affordable green building products,” said Pardue. The company, which has 12 employees currently, expects to double that number in the next four months.
Pardue said individuals love their product because it boosts the comfort in homes so dramatically. “That’s really what it’s all about,” he said. “And our product is much more affordable than double pane window replacement.”
“Saving energy has an effect and reduces your carbon footprint,” said Smith. “Conservation energy and conservation of natural resources go hand in hand, and it’s a win for everybody.”
Coming up on Thursday, Nov. 10, the Community Energy Project will hold its second fundraising event, which is sponsored by Indow Windows, which will be auctioning off their product at the function.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at the Kiernan Community Center located at 4940 N.E. Eighth Ave.
For more information about the fundraiser and a schedule of the free weatherization workshops, visit communityenergyproject.org.