The Comfort Ready Home program pairs qualified contractors with homeowners.
Making your home more energy efficient for the winter is the gift that keeps on giving. Northwest homeowners can see increased comfort and decreased heating bills this winter thanks to a new holistic residential program offered through local electric utilities and made possible by the Bonneville Power Administration.
Weatherization is still the best bang for your buck
Today, consumers have more access to energy saving technology, such as efficient appliances, solar programs and smart thermostats, than ever before. But BPA’s research shows one of the greatest ways to help people of the Northwest use less energy and help utilities meet conservation goals over the next several years is investing in basic home weatherization measures, such as adding insulation, upgrading windows and sealing ductwork. Weatherization upgrades make a home more comfortable and less drafty while helping to reduce heating and cooling costs.
Comfort Ready Home’s program objectives
This January, BPA is launching the Comfort Ready Home program, which will provide contractors and utilities a large menu of tools to expand their residential weatherization (like insulation and windows), heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and high-efficiency water heating offers at a time when market research shows there is a need. It will also help home and property owners understand what weatherization is, whether they would benefit from it, and connect them with reliable contractors and incentives.
“Our research has shown that significant remaining potential for weatherization still exists,” said Jess Kincaid, residential sector lead at BPA. “The goal of this new program is to rebuild the infrastructure that will make it as easy as possible for utilities to reach those customers and, together, help entire communities reduce energy use.”
Current hurdles Comfort Ready Home addresses
With a booming new construction market, BPA found contractors have been reluctant to take on weatherization projects because older, existing homes can require more bids, and often homeowners don’t commit to having the work completed. Comfort Ready Home will help utilities identify potential homeowners who are much more likely to invest and help them understand what to expect from a qualified contractor.
An analysis by BPA found that between 2012 and 2017, only 6% of single-family households in the Northwest took on weatherization or other energy efficiency projects at home. But, with the right support, the industry could increase home weatherization 10-fold over the next four years, drastically cutting residential energy demand for utilities and bringing in new business for contractors across the region, all while saving homeowners money on their utility bills.
For example, BPA’s research shows people are twice as likely to invest in insulation when they’re buying a new home or bringing a child into the family. To target those groups and others, the program will create specific marketing tools that encourage homeowners to work with their local utility and invest in weatherization. Market research has also found opportunities for weatherization projects ideal for certain home types, such as wall insulation in single-family homes, attic insulation in multifamily properties and floor insulation in manufactured homes. Targeting weatherization opportunities like these will help save energy overall while reducing residents’ heating and cooling expenses and improving comfort in their homes.
Local utilities can participate, bringing the program to their end-user customers
Along with marketing support, Comfort Ready Home will offer utilities dedicated field specialists to serve as local community representatives and provide outreach to qualified contractors. It will also offer free training to contractors and project management support for multifamily projects to increase the number of installers offering weatherization services.
Utilities can visit the Utility Center at comfortreadyhome.com/utilities for a closer look at the program, its services and how to participate.