Over the past few years, Essess Inc. has deployed cars mounted with imaging sensors to drive around the U.S. creating heat maps that show which homes aren’t sealed properly, wasting energy and their owners’ money.
The startup, which told Venture Capital Dispatch it raised $10.75 million since its founding in 2011 from venture investors, is now rolling out its technology for use by power utilities.
The idea is that utilities could use the information collected and processed by Essess to tell their customers where exactly their “house envelopes” are leaking, and what fixes could improve the seal.
This approach, according to Essess Chief Executive Thomas Scaramellino, could help utilities and customers make improvements in energy savings that are larger and longer-lasting than simply replacing an old lightbulb with a more efficient one, for example.
Essess, whose roots are in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is joining a growing number of startups that are going after the billions of dollars that utilities in the U.S. must spend on energy-efficiency programs under state mandates.
The goal of the tech companies is to lower the cost of analyzing which buildings are most wasteful and pinpoint the reasons remotely, in order to avoid in-person and expensive energy audits.
Essess has a high-tech method, with a focus on the “building envelope.” It’s using advances in robotics, computer vision and machine learning, and collects more than three terabytes of data each night, the CEO said.
Heat leaking from window frames, doors and poorly insulated attics and walls can make people uncomfortable and power use inefficient. The company’s approach allows it to gather a lot of information about many homes quickly, and yet produce very specific home-by-home results. It can pinpoint exactly where air is leaking in each individual home, the company says. It says that it can do thermal scans of entire utility service territories in days or weeks.