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.

Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter Weather

 

Winter

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.

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.

 

Field Specialist Spotlight: Nick Phillips

Nick Phillips using a blower doorOur Field Specialist Spotlight highlights the experiences and stories from Comfort Ready Home’s Field Specialists. Based across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, California, Wyoming and Nevada, the Field Specialists support utilities and contractors with program requirements, technical questions, utility incentive paperwork and more. With 90 years of combined experience, the Field Specialists are here to help you tackle projects of any size and build your customer base.

With the intent of making change happen at the ground level, Comfort Ready Home Field Specialist, Nick Phillips made the switch from urban planning to energy consulting. At the time, he didn’t realize he would quite literally be on the ground level evaluating crawlspaces, but after 15 years in the business, there’s no amount of dirt or cobwebs that can stop him from his mission to improve energy efficiency.

As a Residential Field Specialist serving Southwest Washington, Phillips helps regional contractors and utilities improve their weatherization, HVAC, and water heater offerings. Whether he’s providing program or technical assistance or connecting contractors with local utility incentive programs, Phillips is always on the lookout for ways to help installers and utilities bring the benefits of energy efficiency to their customers.

“Looking back on my first energy retrofit project, the look on the faces of the homeowners was so gratifying. My team and I were able to air seal and insulate their crawlspace and seal up the duct work that hadn’t reached their bedroom registers in over 20 years. Simply put, they were overjoyed,” said Phillips. “Not only can I help folks save money in this role, but I can help them improve their health with better indoor air quality.”

Nick Phillips at the beachOutside of work, Phillips spends time on energy-efficiency projects around his home. Currently, he’s restoring his home’s street-facing windows and installing storm windows to cut down on air leakage and heat loss and preserve the home’s era of craftsmanship. Previously, he sealed and insulated his attic before adding new trusses and a metal roof for a solar system. By reducing his energy needs and adding solar he hasn’t paid for electricity in four years”

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

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.