Corwin gives houses a breather, cuts costs

TRAVERSE CITY – Tom Corwin makes his living by venting.

It's got nothing to do with the fact he's a licensed minister. It's got everything to do with how he's saving people money on their utility bills.

Corwin and his wife, CeeJay, have spent eight years developing and marketing a product called the Corwin Smart Ventilation System.

It allows air to flow through roofing systems – both new and retrofitted – which results in lower heating bills in the winter and smaller cooling bills in the summer.

"We get calls all the time with people asking us three main questions," said Tom Corwin. "They want to know if it can work for them, can they install it themselves or have someone install it for them. The answers are usually yes, yes and yes."

The phone calls are coming from all over the country, the Caribbean and even stretching to South America.

"We have been in the Caribbean with our roofing ventilation system and we saw savings of 40 percent off cooling costs over a two-year period," he said. "During that time, we also did tests on northern Michigan homes in the winter and saw savings up to 25 percent – and it eliminated dangerous ice from forming on the roofs."

Now the Corwins are ready to expand.

"We're ready to go global," said Tom, whose products were patented last year. "We have distributors all over the U.S. and we're looking beyond that now."

The Corwins have the backing of builders and architects around the country. Their company's market share keeps increasing, he said, because they offer homeowners two desired results: combining "green" building with saving money on their utility bills.

"We have an easy solution to solve many major house problems," said Tom, who spent more than 40 years in the building business. "There is a move to build more energy-efficient homes. We have found that getting ventilation in your house is critical."

So he developed a plastic clip insulation system designed to eliminate ice buildup around the roof and combined that with a rafter vent to improve circulation around roof valleys to avoid mold and mildew.

Both the plastic clips and the four-foot rafter vents are manufactured locally at Acra, Inc. on Aero Park Drive in Traverse City.

One of the best parts about installing the ventilation system in homes, said Corwin, is that the payback on investment is usually three years.

"It will generally cost about $2,700 to install our product on a 2,000 square-foot home," he said. "Some homeowners hire contractors to install it – so that would cost additional money – but some homeowners have done the work themselves."

One of those homeowners is Kevin Postma from Manistee.

"The system appealed to me because I have a problem with ice on the roof in the winter and I was also looking for a way to keep the house cool in the summer without installing air conditioning," said Postma. "Fortunately, I just finished installing the system myself the day before a heat wave hit in the summer. Despite daytime temperatures near 90, the house temperature stayed in the 70s. That's a big change from the sweltering temperatures we dealt with before. And I don't have to pay more for electricity to run an air conditioner."

Corwin believes his roof venting system takes energy efficiency to a new level.

"When most people talk about being energy efficient, they refer to caulking your windows, installing weather stripping, adding insulation in your attic and changing your light bulbs," he said. "Those are all good, but we go much deeper than that and people see tremendous savings."

The Corwins have three married children and nine grandchildren. But with their business thriving, they see a different version of the "golden years."

"It's interesting that as we travel throughout the country and different parts of the world that people all have the same basic needs," he said. "One of the things we keep getting feedback on is how our system also has health benefits. By reducing mold and mildew in houses, people tend to be healthier. So we feel good about what we're doing on a lot of different levels."

For more information, Corwin's web site is and his phone is (231) 218-5629. BN