We help households lower their energy & water use and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
How do we do this?
We develop white-labeled, web-based customer engagement software employing advanced smart meter analysis to help residential consumers take control of their energy & water bills, and utilities & regulators to deploy cost-effective residential efficiency programs.
HEA combines state-of-the-art analytics with deep residential expertise to remotely disaggregate interval data -- electric, natural gas and water -- into end uses and patterns of activity, without expensive on-site visits or installed devices. Our software will benchmark and assess home performance remotely, creating a rich usage profile that can be used to identify efficiency opportunities and measure savings.
HEA was born after trying to answer a simple question: "Why is our energy bill so high?"
Back in 2005 HEA founder Steve Schmidt began his quest for an answer by doing just what any good engineer would do: break down his monthly energy bill measuring the energy consumed by each device in his home. This turned out to be difficult and time consuming, but also enlightening. His home's energy use didn't resemble the standard pie chart published by the US Energy Information Administration. Most energy efficiency recommendations from utilities and government agencies -- do a home retrofit, upgrade to CFLs, replace a water heater, etc. -- are based on this "typical" energy breakdown, and in most cases are not very helpful. Steve knew the standard recommendations wouldn't help for his home because heating and cooling represented less than 25% of his energy use, he'd already replaced most lights with CFLs, and hot water heating (by natural gas) was a small part of his remaining energy use.
So what were the big problems? The pool pump was on way too long. Also, some of the 93 devices plugged in all over the home (really 93! his daughter did a detailed inventory) were drawing lots of power even when turned off. The ancient VCR in the guest bedroom hadn't been used in years but was bleeding 17 watts all the time -- over $60 a year!
His energy bill started going down as he experimented with the pool pump timer and everyone in the house unplugged stuff, put some things on timers, put computers into low power mode and entertainment equipment on smart strips. None of these things took a lot of time or money but they made a big difference.
Next, Steve became a little obsessed: scanning current research papers, taking classes on building science, getting certified as an auditor (HERS), and checking if other houses were similar to his. With help from friends with high utility bills and some early partners, he instrumented a dozen homes with monitoring equipment. Then he entered raw data into what became a 100+ page Excel spreadsheet, experimenting with different ways to characterize energy use such that friends could easily understand it and take action.
What he discovered, even with a small sample of these "high bill" homes, is that energy use varies widely from home and home and to effectively reduce excess energy consumption in a given home requires knowing how energy is actually being used in that specific home. But a labor-intensive process of instrumenting each home to get an accurate energy profile is far too expensive to be practical at a larger scale.
Fortuitously, the local utility PG&E had started deploying smart meters. Steve realized that software could be developed to analyze the smart meter data eliminating the need to instrument houses and do hand calculations. A low-cost, accurate, web-based analysis tool could help everyone lower their energy bills and begin to make a dent in greenhouse gas emissions, which Steve had also started obsessing about. So HEA was founded.
HEA energy disaggregation is based on the following principles:
- use interval data from installed smart meters; no additional hardware is needed;
- start at a high level by identifying different categories of energy use, called loads;
- continually improve accuracy based on analyzing more and more homes;
- leverage a small amount of user input to improve accuracy and avoid false positives (e.g. confusing an aquarium with a second fridge);
- provide a user experience that is positive, educational, and unbiased; and perhaps most importantly...
- take advantage of the scalability of software so the cost per audit can diminish over time, unlike traditional labor-intensive in-home energy audits.
Work began on the cloud software in 2009 and was first deployed in five SF Bay Area communities in April 2010. Since then thousands of residents in a wide range of locations have used HEA software to create profiles for their home and learn how to save energy, water, money, and reduce their carbon footprint.
What We've Achieved
HEA is a self-funded startup based in Silicon Valley. Our local resources are magnified by a distributed team of experts & advisors. Rejecting outside investment has allowed us to follow our vision, stay nimble, grow organically, and keep the team focused on providing value. Today we have the most accurate and widely used smart meter based residential energy analysis software available.
Some highlights along the way:
- 2008 - Steve instruments local homes to profile energy use; PG&E deploys smart meters; HEA development begins.
- 2009 - Seed funding from PG&E Community Grant, City of Atherton, Silicon Valley Energy Watch.
- October 2010 - Acterra's High Energy Homes program begins in five Bay Area residential communities using CEC funding.
- February 2011 - Energy Upgrade Mountain View (EUMV) begins using ARRA funding, administered by the DOE.
- April 2012 - High Energy Homes program completed. Final energy savings report submitted to CEC in June 2012.
- September 2012 - HEA first company to integrate with PG&E's Green Button Connect My Data; HEA attends White House event.
- December 2012 - EUMV phase 1 (DOE funded) completed. Final report published in January 2013.
- January 2013 - Pilot with Vermont Energy Investment Corp.
- February 2013 - Central Valley Home Energy Tune-up begins, funded by PG&E.
- July 2013 - EUMV phase 2 begins (residents again have access to the HEA service and energy advisors from Acterra) funded this time by the city's general funds.
- September 2013 - Home Energy Analyzer for the County of Alameda begins, funded by PG&E innovator funds.
- January 2014 - Silicon Valley Energy Watch program for low income homes begins, administered by the City of San Jose.
- March 2014 -- Won Energy Apps for Ontario challenge (UnplugStuff.com). Also integrated with SDG&E.
- May 2014 - Steve's hero Art Rosenfeld tests the service on his own home and writes a glowing testimonial for HEA.
- July 2014 - EUMV3 begins, funded again by general funds from the City of Mountain View to help meet their climate goals.
- January 2015 -- County of Alameda extends their HEA program.
- May 2015 -- Joint report with NRDC and Stanford released, highlighting the sharp increase in residential plug load energy.
- August 2015 -- HEA provides water analysis service to residents of Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills, funded by the town and water district.
- October 2015 -- Claremont Energy Challenge begins, funded by LA county for all Claremont homes powered by SCE and SoCalGas.
- November 2015 -- UnplugStuff available to all SCE customers through their Green Button Share My Data service. HEA was the 2nd third party to integrate with this new service.
- January 2016 -- HEA joins the DataGuard Energy Data Privacy Program.
- March 2016 -- Study: "If you build it, the Energy Hogs will come"
- May 2016 -- HEA begins development of a statewide app ("Dr Power") to reduce home idle loads funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC) through their EPIC program.
- May 2016 -- HEA teams with RHA on the PG&E Energy Fitness residential energy efficiency program in Northern California.
- May 2016 -- Completed remote smart analysis of 5,000th home
- September 2016 -- California's CPUC endorses HEA's approach: "We authorize prioritization for untreated households [...] and support HEA’s proposal to use smart meter data to remotely analyze opportunities for savings and best measures for particular households." -From this CPUC decision
- December 2016: Dr Power app now available from the Apple store. (Android version coming soon.)
- Stay tuned.
Contact info: info at hea.com; 650-492-8029
Los Altos, California