We’ve all been there—standing in the aisle of an appliance or electronics store, trying to make sense of the yellow EnergyGuide tag and the blue Energy Star sticker, wondering whether this model or that model will be the better value and most efficient appliance over the long haul. The online platform Enervee (enervee.com) is making it easier than ever to factor energy efficiency and operating costs into the purchase price for common household appliances and electronics. Using data that is compiled daily, Enervee calculates the lifetime operating cost and determines an energy efficiency score for each product.
The California startup is the brainchild of Matthias Kurwig and Don Epperson, who conceived the idea while shopping for appliances for their respective homes in 2010. “It was important for both of us to find energy-efficient options,” Kurwig says. “That simple task turned out to be very challenging, as it required searching multiple sources.”
Their vision, Epperson says, was to create “the first objective, data-driven platform that could score the energy efficiency of products in real time.” In October 2012, they launched the Enervee score for televisions. Since then, Enervee’s offerings have expanded to include scores for computers, air conditioners, and most common household appliances.
Every day, the online platform collects retail prices and energy consumption profiles for tens of thousands of products from 18 data sources—pulling data directly from online shopping sites, manufacturers, and government certification agencies (including the U.S. Department of Energy, Federal Trade Commission, and California Energy Commission).
That data works in concert with a database of residential utility rates collected from more than 3,000 power companies, which is updated annually to capture rates from investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative utilities. Retail energy provider rates in deregulated markets are updated whenever they make changes, weekly or monthly.
Based on the local utility rate for your ZIP code and your personal usage (how often per day/per week you plan to use the product and how many years you plan to own the product), the website calculates the operating cost and the actual cost (purchase price plus operating cost) of the specific product.
The site analyzes the energy consumption and capacity of each product (i.e., size, volume, or processing speed) to determine its Enervee score—a 0 to 100 (best) rating of the product’s energy efficiency. Scores are adjusted daily, as new data and new products become available. The score creates a baseline for apples-to-apples comparisons of products with different features and capacities.
As with any service of this nature, there’s always a question of objectivity. Enervee’s product rankings are generated by an algorithm and are as objective as the data that feeds into the algorithm. While advertisers can pay to promote products and services on the website, Enervee stands by its objectivity, and says revenue and rankings are separate.
Website advertising is just one small piece of the pie. Enervee operates multiple revenue streams: partnerships with online publishers (i.e., Green Living Ideas blog); affiliate commissions (when website visitors click through to a retailer’s website); utility referral commissions (new signups to retail energy providers in deregulated markets); data services (audience tracking/retargeting); and mobile app downloads (coming soon). In addition, Enervee offers a data platform on a subscription basis for utilities and government agencies.
Enervee continues to expand its product offerings with new categories, including computer monitors, projectors, and video game consoles. Also in the works is a mobile app for finding the most efficient local offers, and an Enervee score for automobiles. Enervee is working with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to develop a first-of-its-kind international energy efficiency data standard for comparing appliances across different markets.