App Developed in Long Beach Helps Homeowners Snap an Energy-Use Selfie
While world leaders produce their country’s game plans for scaling back carbon emissions in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference later this year, Long Beach-based Energy Datametrics has developed software that helps homeowners reduce their carbon footprint while improving their home’s value.
The Homeselfe—an energy audit “selfie” of your home—quickly diagnoses deficiencies in your home’s energy layout and provides do-it-yourself solutions to shore up issues that could save users hundreds of dollars in annual energy costs.
Energy Datametrics has provided energy efficiency guidance in the corporate realm for years but decided to branch into individual homes in an effort to bring the same energy benefits afforded to their corporate clients to every day homeowners. Its Homeselfe application, which allows homeowners to assess their homes’ energy efficiency from the comfort of their own phone or tablet, provides real-time feedback on potential deficiencies of their home’s appliances or structure and provides tips on how to improve them.
A quick survey of the home is completed by taking a digital tour through the app’s colorful and organized layout which labels potential issues in each room of the house like an old dishwasher in the kitchen, leaky seals on bedroom windows or even inefficient pool pumps that silently drain energy and add on cost to utility bills every month. Ameeta Jain, Energy Datametric’s vice president of finance said that the benefits of the app go far beyond saving money, as the reduction in energy use at home also reduces the strain placed on the environment.
“Whether you believe in global warming or not, we all agree that our energy sources, especially the fossil fuels we’ve been using are depleting and we’re not going to be just be able to grow that back,” Jain said. “In the mean time, for every homeowner, this is something that’s impactful, that is easy to do and something that everyone can understand whether you’re on this side or that side of global warming.”
Jain called the app the the most comprehensive do-it-yourself evaluation tool on the market. But what she pointed out as equally important as diagnosing issues is how to take care of them after they’re identified. Changing out an ordinary 50 watt incandescent lightbulb for a more energy efficient LED bulb is simple enough and be accomplished with a simple trip to a hardware store, but some repairs, like upgrading insulation or replacing windows, can be more expensive and labor intensive.
The Homeselfe provides links not only to potential rebates provided by local utility companies that can help mitigate costs to homeowners, but also to licensed contractors they’ve certified to carry out the work in the user’s given area. Jain said that early reviews of the product have been positive, with the autonomy provided by the app as one of its biggest bonuses.
“What I found as a homeowner doing a Homeselfe is how empowered I felt to be able to put this in my own hands and be able to do it myself,” Jain said. “Not having to call a utility company, wait from eight to noon for someone to come out and tell me how my energy is being used in my home. To be able to do it myself and have that information and then have the freedom to decide what I want to do and when I want to do it and know how impactful those decisions are because Homeselfe tells you, I think knowledge is power and having it in your own hands…it’s a plus.”
Both the Long Beach Water Department and Southern California Edison offer such rebates for retrofitting homes with more energy efficient appliances with some offers reaching as high as $750. Every watt conserved could translate into money saved for customers and could help improve the country’s energy efficiency rankings that have slipped in recent years.
According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a non-profit group that tracks and advocates for more energy efficient policies and technologies, the United States, once considered a leader in the area now ranks 13 out of 16 of the world’s largest economies. In the 2014 rankings put out by the group only Russia, Brazil and Mexico scored lower than the US in energy efficiency.
California as a state fared much better, ranking as a the second most efficient state in the US in terms of energy efficiency with Los Angeles rating as the 12th best city in the country in terms of energy usage. The metrics were based on policies aimed at reducing energy waste, adoption of energy efficiency programs and long-term commitments made toward improving energy efficiency.
Jain said that the app allows users to do their part to help reduce a portion of the US economy’s energy consumption, one that according to 2013 figures from the Energy Information Administration, accounted for over 40 percent of the country’s energy usage when combined with commercial. The direct benefits aside from the environmental impact of less waste is reflected in savings every month.
“Basically more than half of the energy that flows through our economy is wasted,” Jain said. “What we’re trying to do with Homeselfe is really understand how the energy is being used in our homes and reduce that because so much of it is wasted so we can reduce our utility bills and save money.”