Thanks to the readers of Bellingham Alive, Barron Heating AC Electrical and Plumbing recently received the gold award for “Best Clean Energy Company” in the magazine’s annual “Best of the Northwest” issue.
The honor comes on the heels of receiving the bronze and silver awards in that category in 2019 and 2020, respectively—strong proof of Barron’s continual commitment to energy efficiency in heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems for both commercial and residential buildings.
“Our team is incredibly proud to represent environmental stewardship in the community,” says Brad Barron, the company’s chief operating officer. “It’s great to see recognition of what we’re doing in regard to energy efficiency.”
As Barron approaches its golden anniversary as an HVAC services provider in 2022, the company has seen across-the-board growth in demand for electric heat pumps, high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters, and solar energy arrays.
In addition to things like cost savings and environmental awareness, the continuing shift towards the concept of residential electrification—the use of high-efficiency systems and building practices—is being driven by changes to state and local building codes.
In February 2021, the newest version of the Washington State Energy Code took effect. The code effectively doubles the number of energy credits required per home for new construction. Implementation of the new code was delayed several times, giving Barron time to diligently strategize with collaborating home builders on how to maximize energy credits and give customers the most energy-efficient solutions for their homes.
“We’ve looked at the ways to select the best and right mechanical systems for each project, based on what’s important to the customer,” Barron says. “It’s been exciting to see the innovation that has been available to clients that we have, as a result of the conversations we’re having with them, the architects, the designers, etcetera.”
Barron’s approach to meeting a new code also closely aligns with the company’s three pillars of focus: comfort, health, and energy efficiency. Brad Barron says this new energy code is likely a preview of what’s to come in the following years and decades. By 2035, the Bellingham City Council hopes to have existing city homes retrofitted in ways that further the goal of clean, electric energy use for residents.
In HVAC, electrification means installing electric heat pumps, whether they’re ductless or not.
“Heat pumps can be incredibly highly efficient,” Barron says. “And you don’t have to do anything different with your home if you have a duct system.”
Year over year, Barron adds, the trend towards electric heat pumps is continuing, especially with mini-split, a.k.a “ductless” systems. These ductless systems are particularly popular and feature a single outdoor heat pump that provides heating and cooling through multiple indoor “heads” that can provide equipment-based zoning for different parts of a home. Barron has been installing ductless systems for close to two decades and was one of the first adopters of the technology in the region.
Regarding electric power production, Barron’s solar division has been booming in recent years, installing a growing number of solar arrays throughout Whatcom County. The power produced from these systems offsets the cost of the system over time by greatly reducing or even completely eliminating a homeowner’s electric bill.
The coupling of heat pump and solar technology can have even greater results. A more efficient way to create and distribute hot and cold air means that the size of a home’s solar array can be reduced, further saving homeowners on solar panel costs while still providing the energy and bill-saving benefits of their new HVAC system.
Barron has also seen an uptick in customers moving away from traditional electric water heaters. Instead, many are choosing to install heat pump water heaters. Brad Barron says many customers choose to install all three high-efficiency systems for maximum savings.
In utilizing its great network of builders and designers, Barron is proud to be a multi-trade service provider, allowing the company to be a one-stop shop for all parties involved in a new home construction project.
“We want builders to be able to do what they do best,” says Barron. “How can we, as a partner, help them with their challenges? One of the ways is by saying, ‘Hey, you actually don’t have to change the way you build the house. We can bring all of these energy-efficient and energy-producing technologies to the table and take care of that for you.’”
And as new, more efficient homes are planned, the need for quality trade workers to build them isn’t going away.
“All of these homes—both existing homes and new construction homes—all of these mechanical systems that we’re installing are going to require folks to do that work,” Barron says. “We’re going to need skilled technicians, skilled electricians, and skilled plumbers to be able to do that.”
Barron Heating continues to look for and encourage applications from thoughtful and passionate people interested in becoming apprentices in their HVAC, plumbing, and solar divisions. As exciting, ever-more efficient solutions grow both at Barron and in the community, it’s as important as ever.
“The demand is outpacing the supply of both product and labor right now,” says Barron. “We’re always looking for opportunities to bring people into the trades.”