The problem. By using the earth’s natural temperature to either move heat into homes or extract it, geothermal systems can efficiently warm and cool houses with little environmental footprint. Trouble is, they have traditionally been expensive: Digging a ground-loop system into a yard can cost upwards of $80,000.
The epiphany. As a product manager at X, the moonshot factory based at Google (now Alphabet), Kathy Hannun was focused on ways to save energy and cut carbon emissions when one of her colleagues sent her an email in early 2015 about geothermal homes. After extensive research, Hannun realized she could take a page from solar companies, simplifying and standardizing the installation process to reduce costs significantly.
The execution. Hannun hired solar expert James Quazi, and the duo worked for two years to develop an efficient, partially automated drilling rig, along with proprietary piping and software. They spun their efforts out of X, cofounding Dandelion. (Alphabet retains equity in the new company.)
The result. Dandelion has reduced the cost of converting a home to geothermal to about $20,000, and through its financing program, “homeowners who use expensive fuels can switch to [Dandelion’s] system, pay no money down, and still have their financed payment be lower than their normal operational payment,” Hannun says. Within its first year, the Saratoga Springs, New York–based company has sold more than $1 million worth of its systems, with several dozen already installed. It currently operates in 11 New York counties, and plans to expand into Massachusetts and Connecticut.