Google Spin Off Launches Geothermal Startup
Photo courtesy of Dandelion.
After two years in X, Google's parent company Alphabet’s “moonshot factory”, Dandelion has set up as an independent company and has raised a $2 million seed round to kick-off its sales and operations for residential geothermal heating and cooling.
In the U.S., buildings account for 39% of all carbon emissions, and the majority of these emissions come from heating and cooling. Dandelion's solution will cost consumers around half of what geothermal installations have cost to date and be less expensive than fuel oil or propane heating.
Dandelion was set up as an independent company (outside of Alphabet) to be led by Kathy Hannun and James Quazi. While at X, Kathy, now CEO of Dandelion, led a team that investigated how to make geothermal systems more affordable and accessible to homeowners. James, who formerly founded a home improvement company that was sold to SolarCity, will lead Dandelion’s technology development.
Kathy Hannun, CEO of Dandelion, says, “We started this project because we realized millions of homeowners are using expensive, truck-delivered fuels because they don’t have access to better options today. We knew if installing a geothermal heat pump was a simpler and more affordable process, these homeowners would have access to a better product that’s also better for the climate.”
“There is a macro shift in the economy towards businesses that can align the self interest with the broader interest,” says Craig Shapiro, Founder and Managing Partner at Collaborative Fund. “Dandelion’s business model enables homeowners to make the sustainable choice the most economic choice, which is a powerful combo.”
Dandelion’s low-cost geothermal installations are available for zero down for qualifying homeowners, enabling many homeowners to begin saving on monthly heating and cooling expenses immediately by switching to geothermal. The system will provide homeowners with renewable heating, cooling, and hot water and include monitoring and a smart thermostat. Dandelion is now operational in the New York Hudson Valley and Capital Region.
Published reports say the company developed technology to reduce the cost of the ground loop installation. The company's system uses a faster and smaller drilling rig, compared with conventional water well drilling equipment used by most installers, which cuts installation costs in half and drops time required from three days to one.
The company designed its heat pumps in-house, cutting the cost of a $10,000 unit in half.
Financing packages will give homeowners predictable monthly payments under $200 with no down payment. Dandelion estimates its $20,000 system, fuel-free after installation, pays for itself in about 10 years (the ground system lasts as long as the house, and heat pumps must be replaced every 25 years).
Dandelion will first sell systems through installers to homeowners in New York state for several reasons. First, There's a lot of variation in weather. Geothermal systems can be used for efficient heating or cooling, which makes them appealing versus separate heating and air conditioning systems.
Also, New York is a densely populated state where an estimated 2 million homes still rely on oil or propane for temperature controls. Those are each more costly and polluting when compared to geothermal.
For an average fuel oil homeowner in New York, switching to geothermal would save 110 tons of CO2 and $35,000 over 20 years, according to the company. In a home that uses propane, the homeowner would save over 130 tons of CO2 and $63,000 over 20 years.
Eventually, Dandelion plans to operate anywhere in the US with high heating or cooling costs.
Read more about geothermal heating and cooling.