By Emily Hamann
The Bellingham Business Journal
They put the heat in hot yoga.
Hot yoga, done in a yoga studio that is heated to anywhere from 90 to 110 degrees, has caught on around the country.
And as the temperature rises, so does the the energy bill at those yoga studios. That’s where Bellingham company Heating Green comes in.
Heating Green sells infrared heating systems for homes and businesses.
It has become the go-to company for infrared heating in yoga studios. Its site heatinggreen.com ranks number one in Google search results, which helps, but their success also has to do with their expertise, and the way they do business.
Infrared works fundamentally differently from other heating elements. Instead of heating air, and blowing it around the room, infrared elements transform energy into infrared light, which warms just the people and objects in a room.
“Along the same concept of what the sun does to the earth,” said Heating Green owner Jeff Caldwell.
Warmth from an infrared heater feels fundamentally different, too.
Instead of hot air that blows around the room, sitting in front of an infrared heating panel feels like sitting outside on a sunny day.
Infrared can also be more efficient than other electric heating systems.
A U.S. Department of Energy study found that radiant heating systems, like infrared, can, on average, save 33 percent more energy than an air-to-air heat pump and 52 percent more energy than an electric baseboard system.
Traditional heating systems use a lot of energy heating up the air around the ceiling, since hot air rises. Infrared heaters don’t waste any energy heating up the whole room, and none of that heat is lost on the ceiling.
In fact, Caldwell’s customers are often surprised that they can mount the heating panels directly onto the ceiling.
Infrared heat is also zone based — each room is heated separately, and so the panels can be turned off when no one is in the room.
He started Heating Green in 2007, working out of his condo on Railroad Avenue and selling a single model of heater.
“I chose the name because ‘Green Heating’ was already taken and ‘green’ was kind of a buzzword,” he said.
Now Caldwell has two employees, and works out of an office on Ohio Street.
Heating Green is working with the Lummi Nation, to install infrared heating in new multi-unit housing projects. They have also installed heating panels at suites at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
About four years ago, he realized infrared’s potential in hot yoga studios.
Not only is the heat more energy efficient in many spaces, but it is quieter, and Caldwell says infrared heat can actually help with yoga.
“Infrared does a really good job of heating up water molecules,” Caldwell said, “and we’re made of roughly 70 percent water.” That means in a yoga class, the heat those students feel from infrared isn’t just on their skin, it actually penetrates two to three inches down into their body.
“It’s conducive to being flexible and stretching,” Caldwell said.
Heating Green has now installed infrared heating elements in more than a hundred yoga studios both in the U.S. and internationally.
“I’m just trying to capitalize, seeing a niche and an opportunity with an industry that was growing,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell said he’s honest with prospective customers about whether infrared will work with what they have in mind.
“If I don’t think it’s going to be a good application for it I’d rather pass and not roll the dice,” he said.
His sales pitch isn’t much of a sales pitch at all, he said. He just does the math to show clients how much they can save.
“We always start with the facts with people,” Caldwell said. “We’re not very much of a sales-pitchy company.”