A childhood memory was part of the push that sent Cory and Janette Eckert into the ductless heat pump business.
“I grew up in a home with a wood-burning furnace,” Janette said. “Dad would keep the furnace stoked so it was always warm. When Cory was thinking of starting the company (Alpine Ductless), I agreed to let him install a ductless system in our home, and I was really surprised. I told Cory, ‘This feels like the wood-burning furnace I grew up with.’”
For Cory, who was building homes at the time, Alpine Ductless was the perfect opportunity to get into a more streamlined business that also has a positive environmental impact. The company now installs about 400 ductless systems per year. Cory offers the following as key factors that have helped Alpine Ductless find success while keeping ductless solutions affordable for its customers.
For Alpine Ductless, consistency is key. Unlike traditional HVAC businesses that have to stock all types of systems, Alpine Ductless only has to carry what it needs for that one very consistent and streamlined ductless installation process.
The number of units and the distance between the outdoor and indoor units is an important consideration. Distance drives up both labor and parts costs, so Alpine Ductless likes to specify systems with a single indoor unit that’s located within 10 feet of the outdoor unit. With a simple setup like this, an experienced team can perform two installations a day.
Alpine Ductless often encourages customers to go with a ductless system that heats and cools the main area of the home, rather than covering the entire house. A typical setup involves a ductless unit efficiently providing comfort to the living room, kitchen and dining area while the home’s existing equipment handles the bedrooms. It’s also important to learn how to do sizing calculations. If the system is too large for the space, it will waste energy by cycling on and off. A right- sized system will operate far more efficiently, as if it’s in cruise control.
THE RIGHT CLIMATE
The Pacific Northwest’s moderate climate also helps business. It’s not too hot, not too cold, and just right for going ductless. Will Kendra, an Alpine Ductless customer in Olympia, knows firsthand. “It’s a very inexpensive way to heat a home,” he said. “And in the summer, we can turn on the cooling and pull the heat out of the house.”
Alpine Ductless makes sure customers are getting extra savings from utility rebates. For example, by using the cost-containment strategies mentioned above and adding utility rebates, they’re able to offer a single-zone system for as low as $3,300.
A REWARDING EXPERIENCE
For Cory and Janette, the best thing about their business is the far-reaching impact on their customers, their employees and the planet. It’s something they can feel good about with every install. “We’re able to do something really good for the environment, and at the same time save people money and give our employees a living wage. Those are all great things,” Cory said.
Publication date: 4/23/2018