Got Questions?

We’ve got you covered.  Find answers to our most commonly asked questions below.  You can also send us a message to help build our FAQ collection.

Program FAQs

Q. What’s the cost to sign up?

A.  This a non-profit program, designed to be accessible to participants at all income levels.  The program has 2 stages: initial sign-up (‘in-process’ sign & stickers, welcome packet, program costs) and final certification (permanent sign, program/certification costs).  Each is offered on a sliding scale, starting at $5, to help remove financial barriers to participation.  At each stage, we provide a Pay-It-Forward option that supports our ability to offer the sliding scale.  The first $25 goes toward your sign; the rest is considered a tax-deductible donation and is greatly appreciated.

Q. My home is already all-electric. Can I still get certified?

A.  Yes.  In some situations, all you’ll need to do is make sure that your electricity comes from renewable sources.  Signing up for Community Solar or a utility green power program would be your one step to become certified. 

Q. Can renters or homeowners get certified?

A.  Yes. Certification follows the occupant of the home.  In fact, Oregon renters are more likely than homeowners to be 100% electric already.  Follow this link (see p.3) for a growing range of options renters can take to go all (or nearly all) electric, even in homes or apartments with gas heating and/or appliances.

Q. How will I document that my home is renewable electric?

A.  To be honest, we’re still working out the best way to handle this. Each participant will self-certify that they’ve met program requirements and upload documentation.  This could include a recent electric bill (which should show green power, on-site photovoltaic usage and/or community solar), e-mail enrollment confirmation from a community solar provider, and/or a gas shut-off notice (if you had gas). We’re working to make this as easy for participants to provide as possible (and for us to review :-).

Q. Can multifamily apartment or condominium communities qualify for certification?

A.  Yes.  For a multifamily certification, (1) the property must be powered entirely by electricity, (2) common electricity (e.g. for common elements like lighting, common area heating/cooling…) must be renewably sourced, and (3) the property owner must share with residents a Community Solar brochure (https://www.oregoncsp.org/about/) and information about local green power programs so they can sign up their individual electrical services too.

Q. What certification signage options are available?

A.  Both signs (initial and final certification) are available in English and Spanish.  You’ll have a chance to pick whichever you like when you sign up or get certified.  We also have final certification signs for restaurants or other businesses.  We’d love to create decals for bikes and cars, but haven’t gotten there yet.

Q. What options are there for buying 100% renewable electricity?

A.  The easiest and most cost effective approach is to enroll in a Community Solar program.  This will cause your electricity bill to reduce slightly – while also ensuring you get 100% of your electricity from a solar PV facility.  Other options are to generate solar PV on your roof and/or enroll in your local utility’s ‘green power’ program.

Q. If I register for Community Solar, do I have to wait for my project to be operational before I can get certified?

A.  No.  With Community Solar, a company has to register enough participants, then build the project.  So there’s some lag time between signing up and getting renewable electricity from the project (and a small reduction in your electric bill).  Signing up for Community Solar suffices for our certification program.   If you’d like, consider registering for a utility green power while waiting for your Community Solar installation to start generating electricity.

Q. What if my electricity usage and renewable electric generation don’t match.

A.  We recognize that, whether you’re generating electricity on your rooftop and/or participating in a green power or community solar program, it’s hard to source exactly the amount of electricity you use, averaging over a year timeline.  Community solar programs recommend that participants enroll for 80% of their annual electricity usage.  Some green power programs are sold in blocks that can approximate, but won’t exactly match, how much electricity you use.  And the efficiency of rooftop PV arrays change some over time.  Given these realities, we certify homes where at least 80% of average annual electricity use comes from renewable sources.

Q. Where is this certification available?

A.  Our initial focus is on the Portland metro area, where we know local utilities, contractors, and programs.  But if you live somewhere else and don’t need a local expert to help you along the path to go 100% renewable electric, feel free to sign up from wherever you live and we’ll be happy to send you a sign (which doesn’t have the word Portland on it :-).

Q. I want to electrify everything, but how can I afford it?

A. Replacing all of your fossil fueled appliances all at once would be expensive, but you don’t have to do them all at once — you can replace things as they fail. The important thing is that you have a plan to electrify, so you don’t get stuck when an old appliance breaks, and you can’t electrify it because you need an electrician to install an outlet, or you need to up-size your electrical service.

That said, there are rebates on individual appliances, financing options and incentives available – which are often larger for low-income participants. There are also the cost savings from lower operating costs for more efficient appliances that help pay back your initial investment. And there are things you can do with minimal upfront cost, like switching your utility plan to renewable energy, and getting a portable induction burner.

Q. How long do these machines last?

A. When planning to electrify everything in your home, it helps to know how old your current machines are, and how long you can expect them to last. That will let you prioritize which ones to address first. Here are some life spans for machines:

    • Electrical panel (aka breaker box or load center): 20-25 years
    • Furnace: 15-20 years
    • Gas water heater: 8-12 years, Electric water heater: 10-15 years
    • Kitchen range: 13-15 years
    • Clothes Dryer: 10-13 years
    • Car or light truck: 20-25 years
    • Solar panels: 20-30 years
    • Home battery storage: 5-15 years

Electrification FAQs

Q. This sounds complicated -- how long will it take?

A. Electrifying everything in your home might take several years, but it shouldn’t be too complicated if you just replace your fossil-fueled machines with electric versions as they break down. If you wanted to do everything at once, you could probably get it all done in several months.

Once you’ve selected a contractor and scheduled the work, they should only be there for a few days at the most — even for more complex installs like heat pumps and rooftop solar PV panels.

Q. Which appliances have the biggest impact for reducing my carbon emissions?

A.On average, the three biggest contributors to your emissions are your car (50 percent), home heating (25 percent), and water heating (10 percent). If you electrify those three, you’ll make a big impact on your personal “carbon footprint.”

Q. I have a 60 Amp breaker box. Do I need an upgrade if I want to electrify everything in my home? Should I get 100 Amp or 200 Amp?

A. If you don’t have at least 100 Amps available in your home, you’ll eventually need to upsize your electrical service to electrify everything in your home. If you’re upgrading, you should consider going to 200A if it’s not much more expensive. That said, there are many things you can do before needing to upgrade even a 60A panel, especially by using things that plug into standard 120 Volt outlet such as:

    • Packaged (window) and portable heat pump units.
    • Retrofit-ready 120V Heat Pump Water Heaters (coming soon).
    • Portable induction cooktops.
    • Condensing dryer or combo washer/condenser dryer.
    • An Electric Vehicle charged using the included 120 Volt Level 1 charger.
    • A portable rechargeable backup battery.
Q. Why not wait until the grid has zero emissions before we electrify everything in our home?

A. The grid provides electricity (on the “supply side”), while your home uses electricity (on the “demand side”). We need to get rid of carbon emissions from both the supply and demand sides in order to get to zero. Since household appliances can last up to 25 years, the goal is for everyone to only buy electric appliances to replace fossil fueled ones, so that we don’t lock in more emissions. We need to do this at the same time the grid’s emissions are going down.

Oregon electric utilities already get approximately 50% of their electricity from renewable sources already, and it’s increasing quickly.  Oregon HB 2021 mandates 80% renewable electricity by 2030 – and 100% by 2040.  But you don’t have to wait; sign up for Community Solar or a utility green power program to get 100% renewable electricity today!

Q. Is it dangerous to “electrify everything”?

A. No, it just means getting appliances that run off electricity instead of burning fossil fuels. The appliances themselves are electrically safe if installed properly. If anything, it’s burning fossil fuels in your home that’s dangerous — for the harmful effects on indoor and outdoor air quality, and also for its contribution to the climate crisis and our future!

Q. If everyone electrifies their homes, can the grid handle it?

A. Yes – although we also need parallel investments in our electrical grid.  Some home upgrades, such as replacing a gas furnace with an electric heat pump or switching from a gas to heat-pump water heater, increase demand on the grid.  But others changes off-set this increase.  Lots of Oregonians still rely on electric resistance air and water heaters.  As these get replaced with heat pump versions, this decreases electricity use (and bills!).  Finally, as homes and other buildings become better insulated, demand for heating & cooling decreases, regardless of the fuel used.