Talent residents can get up to 16 energy-saving LED light bulbs installed at no cost under a joint program by the city of Talent and Rogue Climate that runs through the end of May. Low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators also are available.
Bulbs and plumbing devices are funded by a 3% state of Oregon charge attached to utility bills for reinvestment into energy-efficient projects.
As of Monday, the team had worked in 44 houses and changed out 526 LED bulbs, 21 aerators and 10 shower heads. The program, which began in April, aims for installations in 100 homes, said Michael Hoch, program coordinator for the city.
“There’s always some concern on how the program is working. When you explain that (the residents) are actually paying for it, they are very appreciative of what we are doing,” said Hoch. “Talent citizens are very concerned about energy consumption and usage.”
Judy Finses and her husband, Jim, along with neighbors Jill and Don Miller, make up one of the volunteer installation teams. The couples first practiced on their own homes in April.
“You’re supposed to save up to $10 per year per bulb,” said Judy Finses. “Each bulb costs around $4. You can get up to 16 bulbs. That’s a huge savings.”
Her team worked initially in Oak Valley, a development off West Valley View Road for residents 55 and older. They’ve also worked in another retirement community.
“Sometimes the color is too bright, so they haven’t wanted them in a certain areas,” said Finses. Almost every home she had been involved with has taken the full 16 bulbs available, although some homes already had LEDs in some fixtures, she added.
In 2017 Rogue Climate ran the program on its own. That year the nonprofit installed 1,094 bulbs in 114 homes. Bend is the only other city in Oregon that has done a similar program, Hoch said. Funding for the hardware comes from Pacific Power and Avista through fees on customer bills.
Over the lifetime of the installations, $70,786 in savings is projected, said Hoch. LED lights are estimated to have a 22- to 25-year lifespan. Aerators and shower heads are expected to last 10 to 15 years.
“We decided to reinstate it this year because Rogue Climate helped pay for part of the costs,” he said. The group donated funds for program administration and volunteer coordination. They also bought all the tools and materials, including plumbers’ tape, pliers and light bulb extractors for vaulted ceilings. Six volunteers are working in outreach and 10 are doing installations and other work.
Two types of light bulbs are available, lamp style and recessed can bulbs. They are tested for compatibility with dimmer switches. Specialty bulbs are not offered.
Hoch is an intern with AmeriCorps Resource Assistance for Rural Environments working for the city of Talent through the University of Oregon. The city has allocated a portion of his time to help Rogue Climate run the program. During his 11-month tenure, Hoch has focused on energy management. He does energy consumption analysis, energy education and research on renewable energy alternatives in Talent.
A group of Talent residents, along with city officials, created a Clean Energy Action Plan for the city to help transition to 100 percent clean energy. One goal of the plan is to reduce Talent’s energy use by 30 percent.
The teams do installations by appointment during the week. On Saturdays, usually two or three teams will knock on doors to see whether residents want the devices. They can perform the work then or schedule it for another time.
The program is available only to Talent residents. A shower head and faucet aerators are available for Avista natural gas customers. Residents can call 541-236-5038 to schedule an appointment or set it up online by going to www.rogueclimate.org/bulbs.
Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in the Mail Tribune