City Cast

Will Oregon’s Incentives Work to Give Renters AC?

Rachel Monahan
Posted on September 14   |   Updated on September 15
Child in green t-shirt and jean shorts is drenched by the fountain spray

Salmon Springs Fountain on June 27, 2021, in Portland, Oregon. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

This year, the Oregon Department of Energy began offering landlords incentives to install heat pumps and electrical upgrades in rental properties. The heat pumps offer the opportunity, despite the name, to cool down a home. OPB climate reporter Monica Samayoa answered the City Cast Portland podcast’s questions about the program.

What makes this program different from other government clean energy initiatives that are already out there?

“What makes this unique is that it is focused solely on renters. It can be any type of rental property like a home, an apartment, a townhome, a manufactured home, an RV, or even a one-bedroom apartment as long as the tenant is renting it for more than 30 days.

“Why I say it's unique is because right now there's billions, with a ‘b,’ of dollars available for climate action, specifically for these kinds of energy efficiency retrofits. [But] it's mostly aimed for homeowners.”

Is this going to work?

“It's a start. I talked to a contractor in Bend that is part of this program and he was also like, ‘Check in with me in six months to see how this program's working. Because there are some homes that would need a lot of retrofits to make this happen.’”

Is this going to fight climate change?

“I think about this question a lot because what we're doing is ensuring people are comfortable in their homes. But is it helping with climate change? I mean, if your home is getting that renewable energy, and then that means we're producing more [energy]. I don't think that this alone will help fight climate change. I think we're just becoming more resilient, right? There's climate change, and then you can be climate resilient.

“Climate change is happening so quickly, we need to find quick ways to adapt, and this is what we're doing. But overall there does need to be more work in terms of other ways that we can fight climate change.”

"Stay Cool PDX" in blue chalk with a dog bowl beside it on the concrete step

A message of hope, from the June 2021 heat dome. (EyeWolf/Getty Images)

Bonus: Tips for Staying Cool

Samayoa also offered her suggestions for keeping cool when the temperature gets hot:

  • “The city has started to increase the amount of cooling centers that are available.”
  • “Find a shaded area.”
  • “Always remember to drink plenty of water. I think one of the scariest things about heat is that you don't know when you're in trouble until it's too late.”
  • “Just try to find the spaces that keep you cool. Go shopping. Go to Target. Go go to these places that are gonna have AC running all day.”

City Cast Portland contributor Eden Dawn also has tips, suggesting some fun activities and outings for coping with Portland heat, including:

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