Contractor Spotlight: Toad’s Plumbing

toad's Plumbing, shower head image

Tyler Redinger set out to start his own plumbing company, Toad’s Plumbing, in April 2021, with 13 years of experience under his belt and the goal of making his customers happy. 

Energy efficiency plays a big role when it comes to making Toad’s customers happy. “I firmly believe in the energy-saving benefits of devices like heat pump water heaters,” said Redinger. “We strive to educate customers on the long-term operational cost savings of heat pump water heaters over standard electric tanks.” Redinger is walking the talk, too: he’ll soon install a heat pump water heater at his home.  

After working for companies focused on newly constructed properties, Redinger recognized an opportunity to focus on increasing energy efficiency in existing homes and the value of working on both types of projects to maintain a healthy business model. Comfort Ready Home offers, including contractor incentives for installing heat pump water heaters, trainings, and plug-and-play marketing tools, made joining the program an easy choice for Redinger and his growing business. 

Utility Spotlight: Umatilla Electric Cooperative

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Umatilla Electric Cooperative, or UEC, has been selling energy and serving its member-owners in the Columbia Basin and Blue Mountain country of Northeastern Oregon since 1937. Today, UEC serves about 10,700 members and 15,700 accounts.

worker standing in snow looking at power lines

UEC’s core values include education, training and community. For Alex Ruiz, UEC’s energy efficiency specialist, there is great opportunity in providing homeowner education. The first step is to help UEC’s members understand residential energy-efficiency options and highlight what works well in Northeastern Oregon homes. Whether homeowners make a small change, such as installing a smart thermostat or take on a larger weatherization project, Ruiz knows they can benefit from reduced utility bills, a UEC rebate and a more comfortable home year-round.

Ruiz met with Comfort Ready Home’s Northeast Oregon Field Specialist, David Olivas, and discussed how the Program could help UEC achieve its goals. The Program immediately began working with UEC-preferred contractors, and provided training that helped support and grow their businesses — an immediate benefit for contractors, UEC and their end-use customers. To assist with outreach, Ruiz used Comfort Ready Home homeowner-friendly product guides and an interactive search tool for contractors in UEC’s territory.

The housing director of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation worked with the program and collaborated on ways to improve the thermal envelopes of homes on the reservation, and develop UEC rebate options to support and incentivize the work.

By highlighting energy efficiency, Ruiz and UEC are helping their members live more comfortably, providing business opportunities for local contractors and staying true to the cooperative’s guiding principles.

Comfort Ready Home Contractor Spotlight – Cisco and Sons

cisco and sons

When Cisco Narez began his insulation business, he had more than 30 years of experience under his belt and two green employees ready to pitch in — his sons Francisco and Juan — who spent their first year learning the ins and outs of the business.

cisco warehouse and trucks

The key to Cisco and Sons’ growth is the quality of their work. “There’s no cutting corners. We are prompt when scheduling customers, we try to be very professional and we keep our jobs clean, so homeowners are happy,” said Narez. 

Narez earned an excellent reputation through decades of good work installing insulation, and broadened Cisco and Sons’ business offers to set the company apart from the competition. Blower door tests, for example, allow Narez and his crew to show homeowners how leaky their houses are before and after their ductwork is repaired and insulated. Offering air sealing and contracting-out HVAC work, the company also helps customers take advantage of the benefits of weatherization.

The next steps for Cisco and Sons include integrating the energy-efficiency aspect of insulation — and the potential for savings — into their marketing and outreach. This is where Narez sees Comfort Ready Home’s contractor marketing toolkit and online trainings coming in handy. By reaching out to more homeowners in Yakima and connecting them with utility rebates, he hopes to supplement the new construction projects that currently make up the bulk of Cisco and Sons’ work.

cisco blower door test
cisco blowing in insulation

To face the challenges of the past year, including delivery delays and increased material costs, Narez uses a mix of old and new tactics to keep the business going strong. He makes sure work continues to meet the expectations that come with his reputation, and future-proofs his business by focusing more on energy efficiency and taking advantage of resources in Comfort Ready Home’s Contractor InfoHub.

Over time, Cisco and Sons hired seven additional employees and upgraded their office in Yakima from a bedroom-size shed to a 15,000-square-foot-shop where they stock up on all sizes of insulation.

Cash-in With the Greener Water Heater Promotion

heat pump water heater promo image

Water heater installers, take note!

This summer, each heat pump water heater you install could put extra cash in your wallet.

From May 10 to Aug. 31, contractors who participate in the Greener Water Heater promotion will earn up to $400 for each qualifying heat pump water heater installation on behalf of their local utility.

Need to brush up on your technical or sales skills? Two heat pump water heater-specific training modules and a specialized marketing toolkit are available to help you hit the ground running. Tip: stock up on qualifying heat pump water heaters now and keep one on the truck, so you don’t miss an opportunity!

For participation details and to enroll, visit the promotion page.

How Adding Air Sealing Can Enhance Your Business

Integrating air sealing into your business offers is a great way to add to your existing jobs and provide better value to your customers.

Three contractors stand six-feet apart facing each other in front of a residential home.
The Comfort Ready Home team meets with Mike McMahon of RichArt Builders onsite in Vancouver, WA

RichArt Builders in Vancouver, WA sees air sealing as a necessary component of any insulation job. According to weatherization manager, Mike McMahon, the company offers duct sealing, air sealing, ventilation and insulation because these measures tend to complement each other.
A contractor crouches in an attic above a dropped ceiling with insulation positioned ready to be installed.
This dropped ceiling above the shower was found to be connected to three open wall cavities.
 
During a weatherization job in Clark County, McMahon discovered the home had no existing floor insulation and minimal attic insulation, making it an ideal situation to perform effective air sealing. He recognized the homeowner would benefit from a noticeable improvement in comfort, and also save money on their utility bill after the air sealing and insulation project was complete.
A contractor laying on the ground under a home pointing at a spot to air seal.
The RichArt team preparing to seal a large opening under the bathtub drain in the crawl.

McMahon and his crew found significant areas of air loss in the crawlspace and several large openings in the attic. In the attic, they discovered many of the home’s interior walls were wide open on top, which allowed cold winter air to drop into the living space, making the home much more difficult to keep warm and maintain a comfortable temperature. The team’s air-sealing strategy was to effectively cap off the walls and insulate over the top to create a continuous blanket of insulation that retained the home’s heat. This comprehensive approach to weatherization satisfies customers through improved comfort, which means more referrals and less callbacks for contractors.
A contractor with headlamp and facemask is air sealing open parts of an attic before installing insulation.
The team sealing open wall cavities above a coved ceiling detail.

RichArt Builders provided additional value by specifying and installing exhaust ventilation, and calibrating the fans to control moisture and ensure the proper amount of fresh air flowed through the home.

Thinking about expanding your offers? Comfort Ready Home provides training, a field guide, marketing tools and technical assistance to add air sealing — along with other weatherization, HVAC and high-efficiency water-heating to your services — all at no cost. Visit the Contractor InfoHub or contact a Field Specialist in your area.

Benefits of Joining Comfort Ready Home

As a weatherization, HVAC or high-efficiency water-heating contractor, you are a go-to resource for homeowners who want to make improvements that increase the comfort of their homes and help them save on utility bills. Expanding your knowledge and honing your proficiency with these installations is a great way to create and capitalize on more business opportunities.

Joining Comfort Ready Home gives you access to resources to give you a leg up on the competition, including:

If you’re interested in learning more, the introductory Contractor Orientation course provides an overview of the features and benefits of joining the program. The training module will guide you through enrollment to become a participating contractor and provide you with resources and support to help ensure your success in the field.

The Contractor Orientation course, along with all other program materials, are available at no cost to contractors in BPA’s territory.

Welcome to Comfort Ready Home

homeowners

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Comfort Ready Home, a new partnership between Northwest utilities and Bonneville Power Administration, that’s all about affordable home energy-efficiency upgrades.

What is Comfort Ready Home?

Comfort Ready Home is a residential weatherization and energy-efficiency resource, which provides contractors, utilities and homeowners with free tools, trainings, connections and support.

What’s in it for me?

Comfort Ready Home will help contractors use energy-efficient installations to differentiate their business. Within the Contractor InfoHub, you’ll find the online training center, comprehensive Comfort Ready Home Field Guide, a specialized marketing toolkit to help grow your customer base and more. When you join Comfort Ready Home’s contractor network, you’ll get access to local homeowners who want to make weatherization, HVAC and water-heating upgrades. You’ll also receive the tools, training and support to perform energy-efficient installations with confidence.

For utility representatives, Comfort Ready Home offers a menu of services to enhance your residential programs and generate more savings. In the Utility Center, you’ll find dedicated Field Specialist support, the Comfort Ready Home Field Guide and links to relevant resources. You can also download the utility marketing toolkit, which contains easy-to-use templates and materials to help promote your programs to customers.

If you’re a homeowner, the benefits of upgrading your insulation, windows, HVAC and water heating are clear: you’ll enjoy increased comfort and lower utility bills. Start by browsing the Comfort Ready Home Product Guides to find an upgrade that fits your needs and budget. Then, connect with your utility to see what incentives are available to helps you start saving right away.

There’s more to come

Over the next year, we’ll introduce features such as a searchable contractor database, webinars, workshops, DIY resources and more. Never miss an announcement: sign up for the Comfort Ready Home email newsletter at ComfortReadyHome.com/email.