Hands-On Weatherization Training Provides Aha! Moments for Contractors

Comfort Ready Home recently held a free training titled, Evaluating the Home as a System.  Zach Wilson, owner of Columbia Basin Heating and Cooling, requested a manufactured home evaluation, which provided a golden opportunity to train local contractors in Umatilla Electric Service territory on how to test the home for air leaks and improve its performance. 

“Homes come in all shapes and sizes, so opportunities for contractors to get hands-on learning experience in a variety of homes are critical,” said David Olivas, Training Manager for Comfort Ready Home. “This training allowed contractors to understand areas where a manufactured home may have air leakage and insulation problems and improve comfort for their customers.” 

The training showed contractors how to set up a blower door test, diagnose air leakage points, calculate a home’s ventilation needs and test the effectiveness of an exhaust bathroom fan. “One of the great things about these trainings is that we are able to customize them to contractor’s specific interests,” mentioned Olivas. “My favorite part is seeing contractors have those aha! moments when something clicks.”  

Check out this video highlighting key topics from the training. 

As one attendee expressed: “I can’t imagine how this training could get better. Let me know when the next one is!” Participating contractors can request free trainings and the regional Field Specialists can customize trainings to meet the interests of contractors. To learn more or request a free onsite training for your crew, contact your local Field Specialist or send a request to info@ComfortReadyHome.com. 

Available Comfort Ready Home trainings:  

  • Effective Air Sealing Made Simple 
  • Evaluating the Home as a System: Manufactured Homes 
  • Evaluating the Home as a System: Stick-Built Homes 
  • Heat Pump Water Heater Opportunities and Installation Considerations 
  • Selling Energy Efficiency 
  • Window Installation Best Practices & Fundamentals 

    Contractor Spotlight: Frederickson Electric 

    Frederickson Electric

    Frederickson Electric has been providing electrical services and solutions to Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula for almost 50 years. Fredrickson’s team of journeyman electricians have an average of 17 years of experience in the field performing residential and commercial electrical systems, solar installations, electric vehicle charging and more. 

    When Frederickson joined Comfort Ready Home, they were connected with one of the program’s Field Specialists, who provided free technical assistance on energy-efficiency upgrades and local utility incentive programs, as well as other program resources to help engage customers. “Partnering with like-minded professionals helps us gain insights into the market and stay ahead of the curve,” said Hans Frederickson, President and second-generation owner of the company. “We are always trying to find new and better ways to serve our customers.” 

    Recently, the team at Frederickson worked with Comfort Ready Home Field Specialist Troy Zdzieblowski to run a hands-on blower door workshop, to train the employees to accurately  measure the amount of air entering or escaping homes. “Before we do any work, we want to decipher the best way to bring comfort and savings to the customer,” shared Frederickson. “Diagnostic tools like blower door tests and infrared cameras are methods we use to make the invisible visible.” 

    Frederickson plans to continue using Comfort Ready Home’s tools and resources to better serve homeowners and builders while expanding into services such as air sealing and improving indoor air quality to meet their customer’s needs. 

    If you are interested in bringing a free educational workshop to your company, like the blower door workshop, contact your Field Specialist. 

    Field Specialist Spotlight: Scott Mayfield

    Scott Mayfield

    In a new series spotlighting experiences and stories from Comfort Ready Home’s Field Specialists we are highlighting the work they do throughout the region to support utilities and contractors with program requirements, technical questions, utility incentive paperwork and much more. With 90 years of combined experience, Comfort Ready Home’s Field Specialists are here to help you tackle projects of any size and help build your customer base.

    Comfort Ready Home Field Specialist Scott Mayfield got his start in energy efficiency when he was offered a position to help identify energy-efficient commercial lighting projects. When Scott’s efforts resulted in the successful retrofitting of 57 Value Village stores, Scott knew this was the line of work for him. This soon led to homebuilding and then to a position as an energy services administrator at Kootenai Electric in Idaho.

    As a Residential Field Specialist at Comfort Ready Home serving contractors and utilities in Northeast Washington, Northern Idaho and Montana, Scott provides technical assistance on weatherization, HVAC and water heating technologies and connects contractors with local utility incentive programs to help homeowners offset costs.

    Scott's Airstream trailer“I love the collaboration of working together with contractors and utilities and supporting projects that are beneficial to homeowners,” said Scott. “It’s important that homeowners understand how their whole house works and how energy-efficient products can improve comfort — and contractors can play a big role in facilitating that understanding.”

    And the buck doesn’t stop at work. After hours, Scott can be found restoring Airstream trailers or working on home improvement projects. Two recently completed projects include rejuvenation of this 1961 Airstream trailer and installation of over 1,000 square feet of tile in his shop/office remodel. “I’m not made for tile work,” he uttered after completing the tile project.

     

    To speak with a Field Specialist in your area or to find out more about incentive programs, visit ComfortReadyHome.com/join.

    New Insulation Courses Now Available!

    Comfort Ready Home has launched a series of eight weatherization courses focused on insulation and air sealing. These courses will help you gain expertise in the latest installation best practices, specifications, and requirements. You will also hone your knowledge of customer benefits, utility programs, and field support resources. The courses include real-life video demonstrations while offering continuing education credits for AIA, BPI, and CCB.

    Who should take these courses?

    These courses are recommended for residential insulation, windows, HVAC or general contractors and their teams that are interested in servicing Single-family, low-rise multifamily and manufactured homes.

    What will I gain?

    You will walk away with helpful program and utility resources, key benefits for homeowner conversations, experience choosing correct tools and materials, and a deeper understanding of program specifications.

    What do the courses cover?

    • Air Sealing.
    • Attic Insulation.
    • Floor Insulation.
    • Insulating Sloped Ceilings.
    • Site Built Wall Insulation.
    • Manufactured Home Roof/Ceiling Insulation.
    • Manufactured Home Floor Insulation.

    Ready to build your confidence and offer your customers cutting-edge energy-efficiency services?

    Visit the course site here.

    Contractor Spotlight: GreenSavers

    When Robert Hamerly started GreenSavers in 2008, he did so with the belief that residential contractors can serve customers better by offering energy-efficient and high-quality installation options. Since then, his company has been installing efficient HVAC systems, insulation and windows for homeowners in Portland and Bend, helping them save thousands on their energy bills.

     “Our mission is to help our customers improve their homes with energy-efficient upgrades,” said Hamerly. “By making these upgrades, our customers save energy and money on their utility bills, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

    One of the ways GreenSavers helps customers save is through rebates and incentives, with their customers receiving more than $200,000 in cash incentives to date. Hamerly notes, “We are excited to use Comfort Ready Home to connect with local utilities that offer incentives so we can maximize savings for our customers.” He has found that incentives are a huge help when it comes to homeowners feeling comfortable with the higher price of some more energy-efficient systems.

     “We are also looking forward to accessing the Comfort Ready Home contractor marketing toolkit, which will help us promote our services to customers,” said Hamerly. The toolkit contains resources including a sales guide, a proposal template and energy-efficient product guides to share with customers.

     Hamerly has found that GreenSavers’ customers trust their commitment to energy efficiency, transparency and high standards of service. GreenSavers is the first home improvement performance contractor to become a certified B Corporation  and is a 5-time winner of the ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year Award.

    Celebrating One Year of the Comfort Ready Home Program!

    Time flies, and it’s been one year since Bonneville Power Administration and Northwest utilities launched Comfort Ready Home.

    To celebrate, we’re looking back on the ways we’ve helped communities become more energy efficient, healthier and more comfortable through home weatherization, HVAC and water-heating upgrades.

    Here’s what we’ve achieved together:

    We couldn’t do it all without our contractors! 

    Contractor Spotlight: Great NW Installations

    While most plumbers default to selling standard water heaters, Great Northwest Installations takes a more forward-thinking approach. Instead of encouraging customers to replace a water heater with a standard tank when their water heater fails, Great Northwest’s installers provide homeowners with energy-efficient options, such as heat pump water heaters.

    “Helping our customers make their homes safer, healthier and more efficient is a priority for us,” says Steve Brotton, who started Great Northwest five years ago in Ridgefield, Washington. “That’s why we’ve made heat pump water heaters the default option — they save money and energy, they’re reliable, and they’re easier on the environment. It’s a win for everyone.”

    toad's Plumbing, shower head image

    To help his team communicate the benefits of energy efficiency with Great Northwest’s customers, Brotton chose to enroll the company in the Comfort Ready Home program. “With access to trainings and the contractor marketing toolkit, we’ve been able to create effective promotions and help our customers take advantage of utility rebates,” says Brotton.

    Working with utilities has proven to be an effective strategy for Great Northwest. Brotton has found that for customers who aren’t familiar with heat pump water heaters, seeing their utility’s logo on Great Northwest’s promotional materials instills trust and gives them confidence to make an energy-efficient choice.

    In the next year, Brotton looks to continue providing Great Northwest’s customers with efficient water heating solutions that fit their needs. In the face of ongoing supply chain issues, this has required flexibility and creative thinking. That’s why he plans to take advantage of Comfort Ready Home’s marketing resources and encouraging his staff to explore the program’s on-demand training courses. “The support for companies like ours, that have a mission to make a difference, enables us to lead the industry toward energy efficiency and make our world a better place for future generations.”

    Contractor Spotlight: Sure Flame, LLC

    toad's Plumbing, shower head image

    When Paul Bennet co-founded Sure Flame, LLC in 2019, his mission was to bring friendly, cost-effective fireplace repair and HVAC services to his hometown of Scappoose, OR, and the nearby Portland Metro Area. Sure Flame grew quickly by responding to families and businesses in need of a knowledgeable HVAC company. Sure Flame fulfills this need by educating customers about the benefits of energy-efficient equipment, such as ductless heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, and showing them how to maintain the equipment after installation.

    “We’re always looking out for our customers. We make sure they’re aware of available incentives and rebates for installing energy-efficient equipment, which helps save them money in the long term,” said Jason Bennett, co-owner of Sure Flame. “The Comfort Ready Home program connects us to local utilities and incentive programs, allowing us to offer our customers the latest and greatest savings. The program also helps us stay up-to-date on best practices for installations and provides us with opportunities to claim rewards for installing heat pump water heaters.”

    When deciding if a home is a good fit for a ductless heat pump or heat pump water heater, Sure Flame’s strategy is tried and true. “We make our recommendations based on where the unit can be placed, the overall condition of the house and what the customer wants as the final outcome,” said Bennett.

    “While they don’t work for every home, we let our customers know about other ways they can increase the comfort and energy efficiency of their home, such as weatherization. It’s all about finding the right energy solution for each unique customer.”

    As a local, family business that cares about their community, Sure Flame looks forward to serving more customers in Columbia County and beyond using the Comfort Ready Home program and customer referrals.

    Weatherization Day is Oct. 30!

    Weatherization Day is coming up and we’re here to help you make the most of it. Weatherization Day celebrates the Weatherization Assistance Program which helps low-income households reduce energy costs while making their homes more durable and energy efficient.

    At Comfort Ready Home, where we serve energy customers across the Northwest, we know the importance of making affordable energy-efficiency upgrades possible for every home. Weatherization is good for everyone — according to the U.S. Department of Energy, weatherizing your home can improve sleep, reduce asthma symptoms, and help save up to $283 per year on utility bills.

    toad's Plumbing, shower head image

    Weatherization Day is a great time to prepare your home for cold weather, improving comfort and lowering your energy bill. To celebrate, we’re sharing our top five weatherization tips:

    1. Give any gaps the “seal” of approval: 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 be sealed with caulk and weatherstripping. Learn more about air sealing.
    2. Go ductless: Consider installing a ductless heating and cooling system to boost your home’s comfort while using up to 50 percent less energy. Learn how you can increase your comfort and savings.
    3. Get insulated: Adding insulation in attics, ceilings, walls, crawlspaces, and floors minimizes air loss throughout your home, keeping it warmer in the winter and preventing the build-up of moisture. Learn more about adding insulation to your home.
    4. Find a contractor: Connect with contractors to get quotes or schedule service with trusted weatherization, water heating, and HVAC professionals.
    5. Take advantage of support: The Weatherization Assistance Program is a federally funded program that provides low-income households with home weatherization services. See if you qualify if you live in Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington and apply with your local community-based agency.

    Make sure to check with your local utility for available incentives for weatherization, ductless heating and cooling systems, and high-efficiency water heating.

    Happy weatherizing from your Comfort Ready Home Team!

    Contractor Spotlight: Stutzman Services, Inc.

    Stutzman Services group image

    Stutzman Services is dedicated to shaping the future of the water industry, and serves the plumbing, well-water and landscaping needs across Oregon’s central Willamette Valley. With nearly 50 team members, Stutzman Services provides exceptional service with a family-like culture and a focus on efficiency. “We approach our work with the understanding that water is one of life’s most valuable resources,” said Brent Stutzman, co-owner. “From educating our customers on the energy-efficiency benefits of heat pump water heaters to the use of drought-resistant plants in landscaping, we are always looking for ways to advocate for the environment and save our customers money.” 

    Founded in 1966, Stutzman Services knows ongoing education and training are essential for managing water responsibly. The company stays ahead of the curve by offering customers new ways to manage water with emerging technologies such as solar water pump systems.

    “Joining Comfort Ready Home was an easy decision. We signed up as soon as we learned about it,” said Stutzman. “The program supports our values of elevating our employees with education and training, and delivering excellence to our customers by offering them energy-efficient, money-saving solutions.”

    As a growing company, Stutzman Services looks forward to taking advantage of Comfort Ready Home marketing tools and promotions for heat pump water heater installations.