Consumer Technology

Published on September 12th, 2012 | by James Ayre


New Startup Essess Is Making a Mashup of Google Street View and Zillow, to Perform Efficient Home Energy Audits

September 12th, 2012 by  

Billions of dollars of energy are wasted in the U.S. every year because of uncaulked air seal leaks in windows, walls, and doors. With nearly forty percent of the energy in the U.S. being used for the heating and cooling of buildings, any wide-scale improvement in the energy efficiency of buildings could have a potentially huge impact on the total energy used in the U.S.


The approach that is currently used to detect the leaks in buildings is the “blower door test, which is time-consuming, inconvenient and certainly doesn’t scale the way it must in order to become cheap and ubiquitous. And it doesn’t scale the way the venture community requires of its portfolio companies.”

A new startup, Essess, is aiming to change that. (The company’s name is pronounced ēssess.)

The company plans to drive cars past every building in the U.S., the same way Google Street View has, to take high-speed thermal scans of all residential and commercial structures. After creating a massive library of the thermal signatures of all the structures, it will give an energy score to every building, creating a simple way for building owners to consider possible improvements.

The scans, which will need a contrast of images taken in cold and hot weather, will only cost the company around $1.00 per building.

“Armed with that data, the plan is to identify every weak link and thermal problem with the building and then provide a tangible ROI-based solution to the building owners,” according to CEO Storm Duncan.

Essess is, essentially, doing away with the need for utility workers, energy auditors or contractors to spend any time inspecting the leaks and insulation in a building. Potential clients will simply be presented with a detailed report and potential steps to be taken.

“This ‘light-touch’ style of analyzing data for efficiency insights is part of the claims of companies like Opower, Tendril, EnergyHub, EcoFactor and many others in the home energy management space. FirstFuel does the same in the commercial energy market. Despite the ‘light touch’ analysis of the structure, building shell improvements like insulation and windows are not cheap.”

The company, which aims to have 10 percent of the U.S. imaged by the end of the year, has already raised $6 million dollars from DFJ Athena, Vocap Ventures, and the founders of BlackRock.

Source: Greentech Media
Image Credits: Essess

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Kevin D Brown, Calgary AB

    Thermographic imaging is a good quick take. But imagining that a ROI statement and energy plan for a building can be built from a quick view of the front facade is a little like snake oil. Good luck to them, though; they certainly will spark awareness on the part of building owners…
    ALSO: sealing leaks without providing adequate ventilation will mean that a lot of buildings become mould factories. This is a huge issue. Condemning and replacing buildings due to misunderstanding this fact will not be green. I am looking for more awareness of this on the part of the “50 Easy Ways to Be Green” type of story author…

  • Pingback: New startup measures your home’s efficiency just by taking a picture | Grist()

  • Jojo

    I guess it’s a starting point and not much after that. The blower door test will still be needed because it will make precise recommendations and not just “you’ll need to air-seal your home.” And the blower door test can be done rather quickly if you get a guy that knows what he’s doing.

  • EnergyChick

    As an Energy Systems graduate student at Northeastern, I’m wondering how it’s possible for Essess to know the R-value of the walls without knowing the indoor temperature? It seems unlikely that you could calculate this without having far more data about the state of the house.

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