There’s a new program offering free tools to residential contractors in Oregon following research that shows helping homeowners with energy-saving weatherization and HVAC projects could be a major business opportunity in the coming years.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a provider of wholesale electrical power to more than 140 utilities across the Pacific Northwest, recently launched Comfort Ready Home, which provides contractors with no-cost training, marketing materials and other services to help them reach and serve area homeowners in need of weatherization projects.
Research conducted by BPA found that in recent years, only 6 percent of homeowners in the Northwest made weatherization improvements such as duct sealing, installing high-quality insulation or updating inefficient water heaters and HVAC systems. The research also shows that with the right support, home weatherization could increase tenfold over the next four years.
“Our research shows there is a major opportunity for people to see significant energy savings through simple and affordable home upgrades,” said Rob Burr, Residential program manager at BPA. “The goal of Comfort Ready Home is to make it as easy as possible to make that happen. These types of projects don’t just help individual customers; they can help contractors grow their business and help entire communities cut their energy use.”
Comfort Ready Home gives contractors the following:
- A marketing toolkit with social media guides and templates for energy-efficiency webpages.
- Sales resources and homeowner-friendly product guides.
- A technical Field Guide to support qualifying installations.
- An online learning center with training resources and information about events.
- Dedicated Field Specialist support.
According to BPA, the program also offers free training and support specifically for multifamily projects — a critical opportunity for reducing energy use in the region. In the coming months, the program is also planning to introduce a searchable contractor database allowing homeowners to find and connect with contractors in their area.
Some of the most common weatherization projects recommended by BPA and Comfort Ready Home include the installation of high-performance insulation, air and duct sealing and professionally installed windows and doors. These upgrades help keep temperatures constant, reduce drafts and preserve air quality.
It also recommends that homeowners and facility managers consider ductless heat pumps, which use as much as 50 percent less energy than typical electric-resistance heating and heat pump water heaters, which use a fraction of the energy of standard electric water heaters. The program also offers similar support services for utilities.
“We hope this effort draws contractors back to weatherization,” said Burr. “More and more people are looking for ways to improve comfort, save energy and reduce their utility bills, and they’re looking for trusted, experienced professionals to help them do it. Comfort Ready Home brings everyone — customers, contractors and utilities — to the same place.”