Ashland resident Eliza Kauder knew it was time to upgrade her leaky, energy-guzzling home when an old floor-to-ceiling window fell from its window frame into her house, shattering on a wood table.
"My windows were literally falling out of their sashes," she said.
Kauder took advantage of a loan program offered by the Clean Energy Works nonprofit organization to improve her home.
Upgrades included triple-pane windows, new bathroom ventilation systems, a new dryer venting system, replacement of a fiberglass duct system, insulation and a new energy-efficient door.
"It's keeping the house much more comfortable," Kauder said.
Eagle Point-based All Phase Weatherization & Construction carried out the improvements in early summer.
Kauder said she rarely used air conditioning after the work was done and saw her electricity bill fall by one-third. She hopes to see a drop in her Avista natural gas home heating bills this winter.
More Ashland residents will now be able to take advantage of Clean Energy Works programs because the nonprofit partnered in September with the city of Ashland, which has a long history of offering conservation and energy efficiency programs.
Kauder learned about Clean Energy Works from a pamphlet she found at a grocery store — before the city and the nonprofit teamed up to refer residents to each others' programs, depending on residents' individual needs.
The city's Conservation Division can explain to homeowners the advantages of using city programs or Clean Energy Works programs.
In general, Clean Energy Works may be the better choice if a resident needs several home efficiency improvement projects, a major remodel or an addition, said city of Ashland Management Analyst Adam Hanks.
"It's another program the city wanted to offer to customers that is in keeping with all the individual programs we've provided for many, many years," Hanks said.
The city offers financial incentives or loans of up to $7,500 to finance projects, he said.
Clean Energy Works, which partners with local banks and approved local contractors, can help residents get loans of $30,000 or more, said Ben Scott, an Ashland resident and the Southern Oregon regional coordinator for Clean Energy Works.
Kauder received a free home assessment that included determining where air was leaking from her home, as well as recommendations for improvements.
Clean Energy Works helped arrange an almost $15,000 loan from Umpqua Bank to finance the improvements, she said.
Kauder said workers for All Phase Weatherization & Construction showed up on time, were careful not to let her pets escape from the house, cleaned up after themselves and accommodated her work-at-home office schedule.
Scott said Clean Energy Works uses local contractors and banks to keep money circulating in the community.
"We want to bring resiliency to the community by creating jobs that are living wage," he said.
Statewide, Clean Energy Works — which originally started in Portland — has helped upgrade more than 3,000 homes. The nonprofit has worked on 150 home improvement projects in the Rogue Valley since expanding here in 2011, Scott said.
Every 100 home upgrades generates 10 new local jobs and approximately $1.4 million of investment back into the local economy, he said.
Joe Lorenz, owner of All Phase Weatherization & Construction, said the home weatherization industry is growing and his partnership with Clean Energy Works has strengthened his business.
"For us, it's definitely helped us grow our business. We can provide homeowners with a means to reduce their utility bills, increase their comfort and enhance the value of their homes," Lorenz said.
For information about city of Ashland and Clean Energy Works programs, call the city Conservation Division at 541-488-5306.
For online information about Clean Energy Works, visit http://www.cleanenergyworksoregon.org.
For information about city Conservation Division programs, visit ashland.or.us/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=432.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.