While at X, Alphabet’s moonshot factory, Kathy Hannun, looked for underexploited ways to save energy and cut carbon emissions. Home geothermal systems seemed like a good target. Using the earth’s natural temperature to either move heat into homes or extract it, geothermal systems can efficiently warm and cool homes with little environmental footprint. Trouble is, they have traditionally been expensive: digging a ground loop system into a yard has cost upwards of $80,000.
Hannun’s startup, Dandelion, which has since been spun out of X, has worked to cut that cost by three-quarters. By developing its own drilling rig and piping, using sophistically software to size systems to homes, and automating some of the installation process, Dandelion is standardizing geothermal to make it more like a solar panel install than a home remodel. At the same time, it’s also offering financing over long periods, so homeowners can use energy savings to pay off what they owe in increments (similar to how solar made itself affordable). Homeowners in New York’s Hudson Valley pay about $115 a month over 20 years--less than oil or gas in the winter, or even air conditioning in the summer.