How One Entrepreneur Brought Energy Auditing into the 21st Century
At Greenstart, some of the very best startups we’ve invested in were founded by people who ran into a problem in their own industry, and started a company to solve it. One company like this is kWhOURS, founded by an employee who saw a way to make his job and industry a lot more efficient.
Co-founder Colin Davis was an energy auditor. He spent his days walking around buildings with a pencil and paper notebook, recording information about the building. He noted the heaters, rooms, and everything down to individual screws. Needless to say, the process took a long time. For every day he spent in the building, Davis spent two or three days in the office entering all of the information into the computer. Despite all his work, the spreadsheets were almost never used again. A different building inspector would end up walking the building later and doing the same thing all over again.
Davis saw that there was an easier and faster way to do his job, and that building owners needed a way to store information. He founded kWhOURS to solve this problem and bring the job of energy auditors into the 21st century.
kWhOURS created a program for tablet computers to take the place of clipboards and pencils. This reduces the time and cost of an energy audit by 35 percent. The startup also created space online for building owners to store all the information about their building, so it wouldn’t get thrown away. The new process also makes it much easier to do energy efficiency projects.
kWhOURS originally made their software for Windows tablets, but their customers kept coming back asking for an iPad app. Those two things may sound similar to those of us that don’t program software, but they’re very different. Everything on a Windows tablet uses files and folders like a PC—and iPad apps don’t. Making the switch is a bit like taking apart a suburban house and putting the pieces back together in an urban condo. Parts of it are similar, but the whole process is different.
Greenstart’s designers worked closely with kWhOURS to reimagine their incredibly powerful and detailed software for iPad. Our design team played a key role in the process, from sketching concepts to organizing information to laying out what the app looks like. They made mock versions of the new software and tested them out with real customers. The end result was business software for iPad that appeals to older energy professionals and a tech-savvy younger crowd as well.
Designing the iPad app helped kWhOURS take on new customers so they could continue helping energy auditors work smarter and building owners take control of their own buildings and energy use. It’s an important first step toward a future where all kinds of buildings have modern, efficient equipment managed with technology, and an impressive feat for a hardworking entrepreneur and his team.
This month, challenge a neighbor to GOOD's energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Throughout February, we'll share ideas and resources for shrinking your household carbon footprint, so join the conversation at good.is/energy.
Original image via Shutterstock