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ENERGY STAR Heat Pump Water Heater Heroes

October 26, 2021

Northwest Installer Says Utility Partnerships are Key to Success
Great Northwest Installations partners with local PUDs to drive consumer awareness and increase adoption of ENERGY STAR® heat pump water heaters.

Industry partnerships and community engagement are necessary ingredients for successful energy efficiency and demand-side management programs. This is especially true for heat pump water heaters—a product with enormous untapped savings potential. ENERGY STAR recognizes and supports partners who are leading the way.

ENERGY STAR installThe latest success story comes from Great Northwest Installations (GNWI), a woman-owned family business based in Vancouver, Washington. GNWI is a “heat pump water heater hero” and trailblazer for the industry. GNWI partners with PUDs and community organizations to install heat pump water heaters, also known as electric hybrid water heaters. These ENERGY STAR electric water heaters make the same reliable hot water using 70% less energy than standard tanks.

GNWI began on the premise of making heat pump water heaters the default option for customers, rather than swapping out standard electric tanks like-for-like.

“We treat them like any other water heater. We would be doing a disservice if we didn’t offer it. Every standard water heater installed today locks in another 10 years of inefficient water heating.”
Borrowing from past experience, co-owner Steve Brotton recognized the importance of cultivating partnerships with utility programs, distributors, and community groups. GNWI partners with the Energy Trust of Oregon and Public Utility Districts across Oregon and Washington to create smart, effective HPWH promotions. “Our goal is educating the customer: you save energy, you save money,” says Brotton. This goal aligns with utilities’ interests and helps the company grow by increasing consumer awareness.

Another element that has been vital to designing winning offers is the pricing transparency GNWI provides. When setting up a promotion with a utility partner, GNWI determines a compelling flat rate to offer customers. This price is featured prominently on marketing materials and accompanied by the percent discount from the regular price. This gives customers, who may not be familiar with water heater pricing, context and motivation to take advantage of the offer and the comfort of knowing what to expect.

The benefits of this partnership include increased consumer awareness from a trusted utility, expert installation from a trusted trade ally, and increased program participation from the community. The result is happy customers, progress toward utility goals, and growth opportunities for small businesses like GNWI.

It’s proving to be a rewarding strategy for Prima and Steve Brotton.

“Our customer experience has always been positive. We do our best to educate and work with our customers to choose the water heater that will work best for them and their homes. The more we communicate upfront, the better the experience.”
GNWI installed over 250 HPWHs in 2020 with an average annual savings of over $350 – and is on track to beat that number this year.
Heat Pump Water Heater Heroes is a series from ENERGY STAR about an industry that’s leading the transition to heat pump technology.