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Enervee scores appliances on their energy efficiency, letting consumers compare while they shop
In the last decade, it seems, America has become much more conscious of its potential impact on the environment. We care, or at least are more aware, of how much energy we are using and how to conserve it. And even if people don't care about the environment, they certainly care about how their energy consumption affect their own wallet.
We have more information than ever before about how much energy our appliances use, but that information is also scattered and its hard to know if what we are buying will actually give us the best bang for our buck.
It's actually kind of surprising that it took so long for someone to come with an idea like Enervee, which is an energy-smart data and commerce platform that will actually give consumers a way to compare products and determine how much energy each one will expend.
That idea has connect with venture capitalists, who have invested $3.7 million in the company, it was announced on Tuesday. The round was led by Obvious Ventures, along with angel investors in the US and Europe.
Enervee has previously raised a $1 million angel round of funding in 2014.
"When buying a product that uses energy today, especially large appliances and electronics, which use a large amount of energy, there is currently no easy and transparent way to understand what the operating costs of that purchase are going to be over time in a financial sense, and in environmental impact,"Matthias Kurwig, co-founder and CEO of Enervee, told me in an interview.
"The purchase price, the features, people want to know, 'How does it affect my utility bill? What are my choices? Wow does it compare to other things I could buy?' They want to understand in terms of their carbon footprint."
So Enervee provides what it called the "Enervee Score," an energy rating score that analyzes hundreds of thousands of product offers for appliances and electronics on a daily basis to give consumers the more accurate and up to date information regarding their purchases.
It takes the data from federal and state government regulators, and bases the number on their calculations. So, for example, if the government assumes that the average person uses their television for five hours a day, it will base the projected energy use off of that statistic.
The potential savings can be manipulated, though, in a number of ways. First, by location; by putting in a zip code, Enervee can make calculations based on the likely ultility that customer is using.
Users can also change the amount of consumption, so if they use their TV for 2 hours a day, or do a certain number of loads of laundry per week, that will also change the number.
And, finally, Enervee takes the data and looks at the gamut of market, what the best products are, and the worst, and then compares and ranks them.
Searching for products on the platform can be done on both mobile and desktop, and that also has to do with where the consumer is in the buying cycle, Kurwig told me.
If someone is moving, and they need a new dishwasher, for example, they are likely just trying to see what's out there, so they can search by price and brand, as well as physical restrictions, a metric that "we have spent a lot of time curating," Kurwig said, noting that this is one of the most important aspects when a consumer buys a new product.
Once the consumer is deeper into market, they can search by product number. As products are integrated into the platform by retailer, including Sears, Home Depot and Amazon, consumers can even search by model number on a specific retailer.
Any product that turns out a score of less than a 50 score is consider to not be good, while a 60 to 75 would be call good, and anything over that is very good. Over 90 is the “ideal energy consumption” amount, said Kurwig.
In addition to its consumer website, Enervee also acts as a white label marketplace for the utilities as well, helping them raise participation rates by identifying and advertising to customers in their territory who are in the market for appliances or electronics. Enervee will deliver incentives to participants, and follow up to encourage new energy-efficient purchases.
It also helps utilities scale their rebate programs.
For example, one of its current partners, Eversource (formerly NSTAR & Northeast Utilities) operates an energy efficiency promotion program, called Energize Connecticut, where is consumers buy products with a certain energy score, the program will chip in as much as $200 as an incentive to buy those types of products.
The consumer can use the Enervee marketplace to buy the product, either online or in-store, then mail back the receipt to get their rebate either via PayPal or a prepaid debit card.
"This is additional consumer incentive, but its also benefit for the utility, who is able to verify the purchases and how much the people, and the program, are saving. This is a core value to utilities, and we can show how much do we actually move the needle," Kurwig said.
"The market is in great change, with people moving to solar and battery type things, and utilities realize the customer will have more choice in how they go about getting energy. We help consumes with being engaged, and utilities use us in an advisory role. It's a win win relationship, and one that is a key element to us getting larger insights, and scaling quicker rather than being small startup."
The company is currently live with PG&E, Eversource, and United Illuminating. It will be launching with another large utility in California, with over one million households, on July 1st.
Enervee was bootstrapped for first three and a half years, building up its data infrastructure and “plumbing,” so it can gather big data to analyze the market. Now that it has started partnering with utilities it is getting ready to scale.
The new funding will be used to expand its team, especially in its Santa Monica office. It currently has 14 employees, and plans to more than double, to between 30 and 40, by the end of this year.
It will also be expanding product to new categories, including water heaters, using the same model to calculate water usage.
The company will also use some of the funding to take its first steps in Europe.
"We are going to start trials there but it is a different business model, as utilities don’t have state funded incentive programs," said Kurwig. "Their whole engagement is more focused on the utility providing service to build a closer relationship on the shopping side, with services and features."
Enervee is looking to become the standard scoring system for energy consumption, so that every product will automatically come with the information what the impact will ultimately be.
"There is a real opportunity to make a scoring system like ours pretty much an every day indicator when people make purchasing decisions. They can say "I'm being financially and environmentally responsible." Look at the changes in the automobile industry. Today everyone buying a car understands what miles per gallon means and its natural when you make a purchase and it's part of the cost of owning a car, as well as an indicator of how responsible they are with resources," said Kurwig.
"It's amazing the number of being products that affect energy. There are two billion sold in a single year. If we are successful in adding this thing, we dont have to change behavior, so you only can do laundry at 10 at night. The information available to you, allows you to move market –
Ultimately, the company believes that its energy score can, and will, be applied to many more than things than just appliances, including anything that uses energy, fuel or water.
"There is no reason is should be limited to electronics and we could have a score like this for transportation, a simple normalized score," said Kurwig. "One we are looking into actively is real estate, so when you buy and an apartment or house, you get a score like this, based on the size and total energy consumption, and a function of where it is, including the weather. You will be able to compare real estate on Trulia, see which has a great score, and know your utility bills will be low."
And, if Enervee, succeeds, and it allows people to buy the most energy efficient products, that might also drive the manufacturers to develop even more of these types of products. If the company can actually move the market in this way, then it really will have made a difference.
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Enervee® is the world’s first energy-smart data and commerce platform that connects utilities, retailers, manufacturers and governments through integrated product rankings and recommendations - distributed via online, in-store, mobile and social channels. The Enervee® Score provides a data driven and objective way of comparing a product’s eco-value including energy consumption, product popularity and price worthiness, based on industry standards, against all models available on the market. Through its extensive SaaS platform, Enervee provides the most up-to-date market information to help utilities empower their customers to make energy- smart buying decisions.
Joined Vator onPrior to empowering energy-smart decisions with Enervee, Matthias was the global COO of Neo@Ogilvy, the digital media and marketing arm of WPP’s Ogilvy Group. He is founder of Planetactive which was acquired by Ogilvy in 2006.