Heat response program continues to cool Portlander in need

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Temperatures hit nearly 100 degrees last month. The hot weather, in addition to last year’s heat wave that killed nearly 100 Oregonians, prompted the Heat Response Program, created by the Portland Clean Energy Fund, to help those most vulnerable heat by installing air conditioners. It also prompted Senate Bill 1536 to be created. It allows tenants to install air conditioning units in their homes and establishes requirements for new residential rental units to provide adequate cooling facilities.

Arbor Mobile Home Park in the northeast was one of the first places to install units. So far, nine of the 10 units installed have been free of charge.

“People are happy with what I’ve done and I’m happy for them because most of what we have here are older people and they need heating and air conditioning,” says Lisa Sims, director of Arbor Mobile Park.

The heat response program plans to install 3,000 units this year alone. These units are funded by two grants, the PCEF and the Energy Trust of Oregon. Buying and installing a unit can cost between $4,000 and $5,000. Jimmy Balderas of Verde Northwest says helping people save costs is the most important thing.

“I get people calling me after installation and saying, ‘I saved so much on my energy bill,’ Balderas says. “It cut it in half and it’s money they could use for their food, for rent, for housing, childcare, anything.”

One of the benefits of the new ductless heat pump is that it reduces energy consumption by 40% or even half. Verde Northwest plans to install 200 units at little or no cost.

They work mainly by energy transfer. They draw in cold air from inside the house and transfer it while blowing out some of the air you want, whether it’s heating or cooling. It’s about extracting air, filtering and purifying it, and then releasing it outside,” explains Balderas.

Anyone can apply, but you may not be fully covered financially. The grants each require different qualifications. for example, you must have an electric heating system and for PCEF you must be a resident of Portland. Verde Northwest says they will use another grant they received to help expand the pool of applicants

To inquire, you can email [email protected] or visit verdenw.org

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