If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t think much about how you power your home until you pay your utility bill at the end of the month. Traditionally, the utility and power sector hasn’t been the sexiest business. But a cadre of new startups are breaking that paradigm.
Here are five of our favorite startups who make it easier, cheaper, and cleaner to power your home. Depending on where you live and whether you rent or buy, some of these technologies might be a fit for you. Keep in mind that solutions vary dramatically in scale and cost - from a free app to a major home investment - so we’ve listed them in order from least to most expensive. Unless you’re currently a nomad or trying out van life (in which case, you might be looking for a different power solution), chances are something on this list could be a fit for you.
The bottom line: regardless of where you live or your budget, there are tools and technologies that can help you live more sustainably and save money.
Who should use them: If you’re a homeowner or renter in California, Texas, or Ontario, you can sign up for #OhmHour alerts to use less energy when it is most expensive.
What they do: OhmConnect is a free service that helps you use energy when it's cleanest and rewards you for saving energy when it's dirty. This works because during certain times of the day, demand for energy is higher - when everyone finishes work in the evening, for instance - and the electricity grid has to turn on more expensive, dirtier, fast-acting power plants to meet that demand. OhmConnect pays you to turn off devices when energy is most expensive and dirtiest, saving you money and reducing emissions.
Who should use them: Buyers or renters who live in deregulated utility markets, including Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington D.C, who are looking to find the cheapest and cleanest electricity plan.
What they do: Wattbuy is a US online electricity marketplace that helps you lower your electricity bill by switching to a cleaner, cheaper electricity provider. In states with deregulated electricity markets, Wattbuy helps residents identify and switch to the most competitive electricity options for them.
A smart thermostat that makes saving energy comfortable
Who should use them: American and Canadian homeowners and renters interested in saving energy and lowering their carbon footprint can save up to 23% on annual energy costs with Ecobee.
What they do: Ecobee aims to help people reduce the 40-60% of their home energy use that goes into heating and cooling their home. Their smart, programmable thermostats help to conserve energy while maintaining comfort.
Nerd out with a granular picture of how you use energy
Who should use them: Sense is for homeowners or renters who are curious about how electricity is used in their home. Sense Solar is especially relevant for homeowners who want to monitor energy production and use. The average user saves between 6-9% in home energy usage.
What they do: Sense monitors your home’s electricity use to help you save money, see what’s on or off, and even avoid disaster. Powered by a monitor that installs in your electric panel, it reads and processes current data in real-time to give you a whole-home view you can’t get anywhere else.
Geothermal for home owners
Cost: Financing payment starts at $0 down and $150/month
Who should use them: If you are a US homeowner looking for a cheaper and cleaner solution to heat and cool your home, geothermal could be a fit for you. A five-ton Dandelion Geothermal System reduces a home’s carbon footprint by 60-85% when switching from natural gas, propane, or fuel oil, respectively. Check out if your state, like New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, offers special incentives for geothermal.
What they do: Geothermal systems use the difference in temperature to transfer heat between your home and the earth. Whether it’s a winter cold snap or a summer scorcher, the ground five feet below the surface maintains a constant temperature year round. The Dandelion Energy home geothermal system replaces your air conditioning and heating equipment with a powerful heat pump and safe, underground pipes. In the winter, the ground loops move heat stored in the ground into your home. In the summer, the ground loops returns heat from your home to the ground.