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ODOE Study Shows Significant Need for Home Cooling Equipment: An Update from the Oregon Department of Energy

February 1, 2024

Many Oregonians do not have adequate cooling equipment at home and face significant health and safety risks during extreme heat waves, according to a new study commissioned by the Oregon Department of Energy.

Following the 2021 heat dome event, during which at least 100 Oregonians died of heat-related illnesses – often in their own homes – the Oregon Legislature directed the Oregon Department of Energy to report on the cooling needs of Oregon households that live in the housing types most vulnerable to heat. The study focused on publicly supported housing, manufactured and mobile homes, RVs being used as housing, and agricultural workforce housing, and found that over half of these types of homes have inadequate cooling equipment.

The study, published in December 2023, surveyed Oregonians across the state to gather data by housing type and region to better understand cooling needs, including whether cooling equipment is permanent, temporary or portable, or unavailable or inadequate. On average, across all housing types and Oregon regions, nearly 60 percent of households surveyed had an immediate or long-term need for better cooling equipment. Among all survey respondents, 84 percent reported interest in improving their cooling systems.

The study also provided high-level estimated investments needed to meet statewide cooling needs. The estimated cost when considering baseline health and safety needs to avoid the worst effects of extreme heat events is over $600 million to install heat pumps in manufactured, multifamily, and agricultural workforce housing, and temporary air conditioning in recreational vehicles. To more comprehensively address the need to properly cool homes, the cost estimate is over $1 billion to install heat pumps in bedrooms and common spaces in most housing types, and permanent air conditioning in recreational vehicles.

Learn more about the study and its results on ODOE’s blog, including how a pair of ODOE heat pump incentive programs and upcoming federal rebate programs will help install heat pumps in Oregon rental homes and owner-occupied homes across the state.

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