FREE copy of the Uptime Elements Implementation Guide once you subscribe to Reliability Weekly

Areas of yellow and red show where an object is giving off heat, giving homeowners a good idea of where interior heating is being lost to the outdoors. Credit: Essess.

One of the well-worn tools of home energy auditors is thermal imaging cameras that show where buildings are poorly insulated. But how do you bring these pictures to thousands or even millions of homes? Two Boston-area startups think they have the answer.

Sagewell and Essess have effectively brought the idea of Google Street View, where a camera-equipped car drives through neighborhoods, to thermal imaging. Both companies have developed business models to provide consumers thermal images of their homes and to make money on referrals.

An infrared image displays warmer and cooler areas of an object. Energy auditors use them to spot where drafts or lack of insulation indicate a significant amount of heat is being lost to the outdoors. On their own, they won’t tell a homeowner exactly how to make a home more energy efficient, but they can quickly help locate problem areas.

“We provide a first look at the evidence of the thermal image and help locate anything of interest that warrants a closer look,” Sagewell CEO Pasi Miettinen told me from the Building Energy conference in Boston.

In many states, a surcharge on utility bills funds energy-efficiency programs that offer rebates or free home energy audits. Although they can save people money from lower energy bills, most consumers simply don’t go through the trouble of having an audit and following through with recommendations. Miettinen says the image serves as a “catalyst” to help motivate a consumer to take steps, such as sealing leaks and hiring a contractor to add insulation. In one town, fifteen percent of the homes that received a thermal image of their home followed up with the state’s energy-efficiency program, although that was unusually high.

With just an image taken at night during the winter to measure heat loss, Sagewell’s back-end software can generate a comparison of how one home compares to another in terms of efficiency. The data can also be valuable to utilities to gain insight into when consumers will follow through to make energy improvements, Miettinen says.

Sagewell also works directly with towns and home performance contractors in providing infrared images to consumers, Miettinen says. Consumers need a password to log into to see images of their homes. The company’s cameras can capture thousands of images a day and has captured half of a million images.

Another company, Essess, was founded with a similar idea of building a home thermal imaging system that could engage consumers and scale. Its system of gathering geospatial data and analyzing it to predict building efficiency was developed by MIT professor Jonathan Jesneck. Essess, which raised a $6 million series A round last year, works with both commercial and residential buildings and can generate reports estimated the amount of money lost to wasted energy.

Most energy contractors will tell you every building is different so they each need very tailored recommendations on how best to improve efficiency. Thermal images, just like blower door tests, can be a very useful diagnostic for building owners. For Essess and Sagewell, the challenge to scaling up may ultimately not be so much about their technology, but their ability to engage consumers and build a viable business around referral fees.

Upcoming Events

August 8 - August 10, 2023

Maximo World 2023

View all Events
banner
80% of Reliabilityweb.com newsletter subscribers report finding something used to improve their jobs on a regular basis.
Subscribers get exclusive content. Just released...MRO Best Practices Special Report - a $399 value!
DOWNLOAD NOW
Defect Elimination in the context of Uptime Elements

Defect Elimination means a lot of things to a lot of people. Uptime Elements offers a specific context for defect elimination [DE] as a success factor on the reliability journey [RJ].

Internet of Things Vendors Disrupting the Asset Condition Management Domain at IMC-2022

Internet of Things Vendors Disrupting the Asset Condition Management Domain at IMC-2022 The 36th International Maintenance Conference collocated with the RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference [East]

Asset Management Technology

The aim of the Asset Management technology domain is to assure that IT/OT systems are focused on creating the value from the assets and that the business can deliver to achieve organizational objectives as informed by risk.

TRIRIGAWORLD AWARDS at MaximoWorld 2022

TRIRIGAWORLD AWARDS honors excellence in space optimization and facility management, A Reliabilityweb.com event to further advance asset management

IMC-2022 Who's Who: The World's Best Run Companies

The International Maintenance Conference (IMC) provides a fresh, positive community-based curated experience to gain knowledge and a positive perspective for advancing reliability and asset management through people, their managers, the strategy, the processes, the data and the technology. The world’s best-run companies are connecting the workforce, management, assets and data to automate asset knowledge that can be leveraged for huge beneficial decisions.

Uptime Elements Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis is a problem solving method. Professionals who are competent in Root Cause Analysis for problem solving are in high demand.

Reliability Risk Meter

The asset is not concerned with the management decision. The asset responds to physics

Why Reliability Leadership?

If you do not manage reliability culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening!

Asset Condition Management versus Asset Health Index

Confusion abounds in language. Have you thought through the constraints of using the language of Asset Health?

Seven Chakras of Asset Management by Terrence O'Hanlon

The seven major asset management chakras run cross-functionally from the specification and design of assets through the asset lifecycle to the decommissioning and disposal of the asset connected through technology