After installing an energy-efficient heat pump, Good Bike Co.’s owner said he wished he’d done it years ago. “The cost savings in utilities are just astronomical. It opens up opportunities for us to continue to grow, where before we were throwing out hundreds of bucks every month for heat and not even being warm or comfortable.”
In the first years of his business, James Good was more focused on getting his customers outdoors on a bike they loved than he was on how they felt when they were inside his shop.
When he opened Good Bike Co. in 2014, he and his brother spent two weeks remodeling the storefront, a 1940s gas station in downtown Prineville. They had help from family, friends and professionals for electrical and plumbing. But it was largely a Good brothers production. They tore down walls, built cabinets and transformed the space to include retail and repair areas, plus a bar up front for customers to socialize over a pint from their rotating taps of local beer.
Working on a tight budget, they didn’t pay much attention to the heating system. Looking back, Good said he wishes he had done it differently.
In the winter they’d plug in space heaters to warm the 1,000-square-foot shop, which sent the electric bill as high as $400 a month. In summer, electric fans and open windows weren’t enough to counteract 90-degree temperatures.
It was uncomfortable, and Good was concerned for his employees. “I’m lucky that they put up with the working conditions, really.”
That changed about 10 months ago, when the bike shop installed an energy-efficient ductless heat pump. Acting on advice from a friend, Good got a $750 cash incentive from Energy Trust of Oregon to help with the cost.
“In hindsight, I wish I would have installed it 7 years ago,” he said.
The new system cut his utility bills to about $75 a month, and the shop stays at a consistent temperature year ‘round.
“The cost savings in utilities are just astronomical,” Good said. “It opens up opportunities for us to continue to grow, where before we were throwing out hundreds of bucks every month for heat and not even being warm or comfortable.”
Working with Energy Trust to claim the incentive was easy, he added, and the benefits were immediate — no more worries about pipes freezing in winter or staff sweltering in summer.
Good’s advice to other small business owners who are weighing the up-front costs of an upgrade against a slim budget: “Do it yesterday. I would not hesitate one bit. Especially with the incentives.”
With the peace of mind his new heating system brings, Good can get back to focusing on what he loves. As a certified outdoors guide, he’s made it his mission to support cyclists who come through Prineville. The shop sits at a unique meeting point: the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, the Oregon Outback Scenic Bikeway and the Central Oregon Backcountry Explorer Route all pass near its doors.
“Anybody going coast to coast will ride by the bike shop on Highway 26. We see cyclists from around the world, all summer long, stopping in,” Good said.
Visitors will grab a drink, sign the guest book and share stories about where they’ve been. Good’s staff also serve as informal guides to Prineville and the Ochoco National Forest.
“Cyclists love to spend money in the community — at grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, bike shops and all the other things,” Good said. “They also need help because they don’t know anybody. It’s great that we can be here for that, and also capture some of the tourism dollars that are coming through town.”
At the same time, Good and his team aren’t looking to push product for its own sake. His business decisions are increasingly guided by sustainability and an eye toward reducing waste.
That includes partnerships with bike manufacturers who reduce the packaging they use to ship their products and recycling everything they can in the shop. Sometimes, instead of selling a customer a new bike, Good will prioritize repairs to help extend the life of their current ride.
“Before pulling the trigger and getting whatever you need, we’re asking, ‘What is the impact? Is there something more sustainable or something better?” he said. “We’re thinking about that on a constant basis. In terms of environmental consciousness, it all adds up.”
Learn more about energy efficiency for your retail business with Energy Trust.