Mike Stothers and the Craft of Energy Efficiency

Since the 1990s, Mike Stothers has been interested in the intersection of energy efficiency and architecture. In his years working as a carpenter, he developed an eye for detail and an appreciation for the craftmanship of a beautiful house. He also understood that good construction was only part of what made a home truly livable; it also had to be energy efficient for optimal comfort and savings.

After 20 years working construction, Mike transitioned to the solar industry, merging his background as a builder with the emergence of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Eventually, he started his own construction company and learned the ins and outs of running a business.

Years later, when the greenery of the Northwest called, Mike joined Comfort Ready Home as a Field Specialist in 2021. Here, his combination of skills foster growth for contractors while helping them understand how integrating energy efficiency and incentives can strengthen their business. His mix of experience, skills and passion allow him to guide contractors toward sustainable profitability which in turn supports healthier communities.

In his free time, Mike melds his passions for science, art and activity. He can be found building his own backyard skate ramps, spreading watercolor across canvas and making upgrades to his home in Eugene, Oregon.

To get in touch with Mike and learn more about how Comfort Ready Home works for utilities and contractors, send us a message.

Designing the Perfect Customer Experience: Marshall’s Approach to HVAC Solutions

Changing with the Industry

Throughout the years, family-owned Marshall’s Inc. has stayed relevant by focusing on hiring the right people, maintaining expertise in developing technologies and solution-based customer service. Lisa Bruckner, Chief Operating Officer at Marshall’s, says, “The industry has changed over the years, but the core of what makes Marshall’s special hasn’t changed. Experience has shown we need to change what we install to meet the needs of the community, but how we do it remains genuine.”

Prioritizing the Customer

The company, which started by delivering oil in 1948 and then installing oil furnaces to meet customer needs, has followed the evolution toward more energy efficient and sustainable options. Marshall’s Inc. became one of the first contractors in the local area to embrace technologies like heat pumps, insulation for energy conservation and all things comfort. To provide their customers with even more value, Marshall’s partners with their local utilities, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Springfield Utility Board, Emerald People’s Utility District, Energy Trust of Oregon, Lane Electric Co-op, local gas utilities and product manufacturers for easy access to available rebates. By offering incentives on their proposals at the point-of-sale, Marshall’s offers transparency that helps build trust with their customers. “We put the onus on ourselves to bring the rebate to the client. As the professionals in the field, we feel it’s on us to put it all together for them,” says Bruckner.

Collaborating to Improve

Through relationships with other organizations and partnerships with utilities, Marshall’s strives to offer continuous education opportunities for its employees. They are currently working with Comfort Ready Home to assemble a local heat pump water heater training for their team.

Interested in scheduling a free training? Contact your local Field Specialist

A Balanced Partnership

Marshall’s Inc shows that providing excellent service comes from staying true to your roots while embracing the changes that benefit your customers and being open to collaboration. Striking this balance between innovation and customer care has helped the company set an admirable standard and will continue to serve them well into the future.

ThermAll’s Commitment to Affordable HVAC Warms Up During Winter

Winter can be a challenging time for many families, especially when it comes to keeping their homes warm and cozy. This was the case for one family who called ThermAll Heating, Cooling & Electric in the middle of winter to repair their non-working heating system.

Upon arrival, the salesperson discovered a flame rollout issue, where combustion happens outside the designated area. If left unresolved, the situation poses a serious fire and safety hazard. The family had no other heating source and was not financially able to repair the current system, leaving them without heat at a dire time.

Thankfully, the team at ThermAll was not content to simply walk away. They reached out to local organizations and the local gas utility company to seek support to provide the family with a solution. After tapping into their connections, they were able to secure funding for a brand-new system. But they didn’t stop there. ThermAll reached out to their local Comfort Ready Home Field Specialist, David Olivas, to see if there were any other resources available for the family. Through this connection, David put on his other hat as community advocate and helped ThermAll find supporters to raise extra funds to ensure the family was able to have a family holiday celebration.

This heart (and house) warming story is just one example of how ThermAll has been standing behind their name since 1988. Founded as a force for good in the mission to bring affordable heating and cooling solutions to their community, ThermAll has remained committed to this goal despite the challenges that come with being a family-owned business in an increasingly competitive market.

They continue to grow adding great people to the team, including recently adding a whole electric division. The ThermAll team continues to work with Comfort Ready Home to stay at the top of their game by accessing free Comfort Ready Home trainings and their on-call field specialist, David Olivas.


Women-Owned Business Spotlight: Total Quality Air

For years, Rosie Garcia’s husband, Carlos, worked for HVAC businesses and spent stretches on the road away from the family. Eventually, the pair decided to venture out on their own and started Total Quality Air in Pasco, WA. They moved into a tiny office building with a small storage space and got to work. Rosie, a mother and full-time schoolteacher, added the title business owner to her already busy schedule.

Through the Garcias’ hard work, dedication and strong family bond, the Total Quality Air team grew year after year. After a sprint of hiring, Rosie made the choice to leave teaching and focus on the HVAC business. As she reflects on that time, she realized that one person can only do so much. “You always have to grind as a business owner, but I had to realize when it was time to bring more employees on,” she said. And that’s what Total Air Quality did, purchasing a building in Pasco and growing the team to more than 16 people.

When Rosie is asked what she values most about how the business is run, family is the common theme. “My daughter’s upbringing taught me a lot about the need for flexibility for family and the people we love,” she said. “It isn’t uncommon to see children in the office somedays.” She runs the business by relying on the family that is created by prioritizing a comfortable workspace with open communication.

Another way that Rosie and Carlos have made Total Quality successful is by taking advantage of Comfort Ready Home’s support, working with dedicated Field Specialist David Olivas and attending in-person trainings. Rosie says, “I’m looking forward to continuing to work with David. He has been one of our best support systems; if he doesn’t know the answer, he will make sure to find someone who does.”

We are proud to support and recognize the women-owned businesses participating in the Comfort Ready Home Contractor Network.

Women-Owned Business Spotlight: Eastern Oregon Heating & Air Conditioning

In 2018, Becky Hayden started running Eastern Oregon Heating & Air Conditioning, the HVAC business her father started in 2010. Having grown up around her father’s 30-year passion, she too caught the bug for hard work. Hayden says, “I liked how amazing things could be built with just a flat piece of metal.”

Eastern Oregon supports their clientele with Becky at the helm and nine team members, including North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certified technicians and salespeople. With growth happening in all directions for the community, the team is ready to heed their customers’ calls for comfort. “There will always be a need for HVAC, and we are in the business for it.”

When asked about the most important thing she has learned along the way, Becky says, “Running a successful business depends on how driven you are. It is never a 9-to-5 job; it takes time and dedication to make sure our customers are taken care of and ensuring the community knows our team is built with honesty and integrity. Word of mouth goes a long way and having a great team standing beside you is very important.”

Becky says she is looking forward to continuing to work David Olivas, her regional Comfort Ready Home Field Specialist. “David is always ready to answer questions about energy efficiency and utility incentives. He also keeps us updated on the trainings that are available”

We are proud to support and recognize the women-owned businesses participating in the Comfort Ready Home Contractor Network.

Outreach Specialist Spotlight: John Heflin

When John Heflin landed his first job as a Comfort Specialist at an HVAC company, he quickly became hooked on helping homeowners save money and solve home comfort problems. Now, as a Comfort Ready Home Outreach Specialist, Heflin is helping connect distributors and contractors with utility incentives and training opportunities so they can bring the benefits of energy efficiency to their customers’ homes.

“I enjoy what I do because I like showing people things they didn’t know were possible when it comes to increasing energy efficiency and comfort at home,” said Heflin. He enjoys learning new things, too — one of his favorite experiences working in HVAC was selling a Spacepak Solstice air-to-water heat pump, a specialized and uncommon system that Heflin had to study up on. With his background in HVAC systems and utilizing rebates to increase customer satisfaction, Heflin is an expert when it comes to helping contractors find unique solutions to meet the needs of their customers.

In his free time, Heflin is a drummer for several bands in Portland and is currently setting up a home recording space. He’s adding temporary sound reduction (“to keep the neighbors happy,” he says) and a power conditioner, which smooths out voltage fluctuations and protects his gear.

To get in touch with John and learn more about how Comfort Ready Home works with distributors and contractors, send us a message.

Staying Safe in a Power Outage


Power Outage

Preparing for a power outage, especially an extended one, is much like preparing for other disasters or emergency situations. Taking these steps beforehand can ensure that you have everything you need to make it through an outage safely.

  1. Be safe – When the lights don’t turn on, many people look to generators and other fuel-powered devices. If you’re using one of these, make sure there are working battery operated CO (carbon monoxide) monitors near every bedroom. Never run combustible equipment indoors and do not use your oven as a heater. Never plug a generator into an electrical outlet: This could cause backfeed, sending electricity out to the powerlines, which could result in serious line worker injury or death.
  2. Make a plan – Create a communication process to account for everyone in your household. (Two-way radios are great for this!) Neighbors can be a key resource — include them in your plan and make sure to check in on each other.
  3. Forecast and prepare – Winter storms are often forecasted. When one is predicted for your area, prepare accordingly:
    • Make sure your vehicle’s tank or battery is full.• Have extra jugs of potable water and non-perishable food items.
    • Make sure you have enough prescription medications to last the storm.
    • Conserve your phone’s battery power throughout the event and make sure external battery packs are charged.
    • Have spare batteries on hand for flashlights, lamps and other devices.
    • Layer up, stay dry and stick together. Set up a tent indoors, sleep and gather near each other to retain heat.
    • Prep extra seasoned wood if you have a fireplace or woodstove.
    • Prepare for your pets, too.
    • Have activities prepared, especially if you have children.
  4. Know what your resources can handle – It’s likely that only a small portion of your home will need to be heated, such as the living room. Keep this in mind if you plan to purchase or set up a generator.
  5. Winterize your home ahead of time – Follow the DIY tips in our winterization blog post or have a contractor insulate and air seal your home. You’ll be more comfortable and lower your bills right away, and be better prepared for the next outage.
  6. Educate – Many communities have a disaster preparedness team. Check to see what resources are available in your area, then share that information with neighbors and friends.

Download a PDF with these tips in English or Spanish.


Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter Weather



Ice, snow and freezing weather can be tough on your home, but there are plenty of easy ways to stay warm indoors and keep your house in good condition. Follow these DIY tips to prepare your home before the chill hits — you’ll be more comfortable when the thermometer dips and save more on energy bills.

  1. Change your filters – Clogged and dirty filters are the number one reason contractors receive calls for failing heating systems. They cause the heater to work much harder and lead to early failure. Changing your filters regularly can prevent this, and if you have baseboard heating, make sure the coils are clean and clear of dust and debris.
  2. Minimize air drafts – Easy-to-use air sealing kits and insulating spray foam are available at most hardware stores. Use these to seal gaps around doors, light fixtures and plumbing under the sink or behind your washing machine. This will reduce drafts and keep warm air inside.
  3. Remove window A/C units – By leaving your air conditioning unit in your window during cold months, you’ll allow heated air to escape, leaving you colder and leading to higher heating bills.
  4. Check your fireplace – Chimneys can be responsible for substantial heat loss. If you have an open fireplace in the home, make sure the damper is fully closed when it is not in use.
  5. Close the curtains at night –Even with highly efficient windows, the area around them can get cold. Insulated shades and cloth curtains create a buffer zone between you and the cold glass, leading to more comfortable temperatures indoors.
  6. Open the curtains in the day – Even in winter, opening your curtains allows your home to absorb plenty of free heat from the sun during the day. Plus, exposure to natural light has been shown to improve your mood!

If you’re not sure where to start or if you want help winter-proofing your home, contact your utility or reach out to a local contractor for support.

Download a PDF with these tips in English or Spanish.

How Veterans in the HVAC Industry Are Serving Their Communities



This Veterans Day, Comfort Ready Home is highlighting the work of Veterans who provide critical HVAC services to their communities. From helping families stay safe during extreme weather events to making energy-saving home improvements, these dedicated professionals are using their unique skill sets to meet the needs of their customers. And as Veterans, Erique Arriaga, an HVAC installer at Marshalls, Inc., and Jurea Rubit, the owner of All New, LLC, can attest, each day is full of learning opportunities and hands-on experiences.

Erique Arriaga and Jurea Rubit

Arriaga, an Infantryman for the U.S. Army, enrolled in an HVAC trade class for transitioning soldiers as soon as he returned from his 9-month deployment in Iraq. “I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and learning new things,” said Arriaga. With its huge variety of work and ability to have an immediate impact, Arriaga knew the HVAC industry was the perfect fit for him. “It’s so satisfying to bring my knowledge and experiences together to install systems that I know will benefit my community.”

For Rubit, it was her 8 years in the Air Force scouting contractors, negotiating contracts and supervising contractors that lead her to start her own company. After a little maternal encouragement, Rubit started All New, LLC to complete work her mother needed done on her home. Since that day, Rubit has been offering a full suite of weatherization, HVAC, repairs and remodels to the South Puget Sound area. “In my career with the Air Force, I built deep relationships with many skilled Veterans and have seen firsthand the immense dedication they bring to their work.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a relatively high percentage of Veterans work in installation, maintenance and repair occupations. On this day, it’s important we recognize and celebrate their contributions to our country and our communities, and call out training programs like Helmets to Hard Hats and Hard Hat Heroes, which help Veterans transition to civilian life with training opportunities and careers in the trades.

Comfort Ready Home thanks Erique Arriaga, Jurea Rubit and all Veterans for their service.

Celebrating a Comfortable and Efficient Home on Weatherization Day

Autumn Weatherization

With extreme weather on the rise, here are 5 ways to prepare and stay comfortable.

Weatherizing your home involves taking steps to keep it warm during cooler seasons and cool during warmer seasons by improving energy efficiency. Common weatherization measures include adding insulation, sealing air leaks and ducts, upgrading windows and replacing doors. In addition to making your home more comfortable, these steps can also significantly lower your utility bills and even support better health for you and your family —including reducing asthma triggers and getting a better night’s sleep (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). With the recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, households stand to benefit even more with cleaner air and cheaper electricity. Stay tuned to Energy Star’s federal tax credits page as more information on tax credits and incentives becomes available.

While everyone stands to benefit from weatherizing their home, the impact is often most profound on low-income households that bear greater energy burdens. Many of these homes spend a disproportionately high amount of their income on energy costs. Weatherization Day commemorates the Weatherization Assistance Program, which was founded in 1976, as a way to reduce energy costs for low-income households through no- and low-cost energy efficiency upgrades.

Now that we’ve gone over the benefits of weatherization, here are our top five tips to help you get started:

Explore weatherization improvements: Explore our interactive model home to find weatherization measures that fit your home and suit your needs. Many options can improve indoor air quality and reduce noise and your environmental impact at the same time.

Seal air gaps: Air leakage and improperly installed insulation can waste 20 percent or more of the energy used to heat your home. Common air-leakage trouble spots include windows, doors and ducts, which can often be addressed on your own using simple tools like caulk and weatherstripping. Learn more in our air sealing product guide.

Get insulated: Adding insulation in attics, ceilings, walls and under floors minimizes heat loss throughout your home, keeping it warmer in the winter and preventing moisture buildup. Learn more in our insulation product guide.

Choose a heat pump: A heat pump is an energy-efficient and effective way to heat and cool your home. These systems work by transferring heat from one place to another instead of generating it directly. This technology has proven itself and can even work in cold Northwest climates! Learn more in our heat pump product guide.

Take advantage of support: The Weatherization Assistance Program is designed to help low-income families, seniors, individuals with disabilities, families with children and households with high energy burdens. The program is administered at the state and local level — see if you qualify and learn about next steps in Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington.

Share your Weatherization Day Moments with the hashtags #WxDayOct30 and tag @ComfortReadyHome on Instagram, Linkedin, or Facebook.