Cut Down Energy Loss with Essess’s Infrared Technology

by Abigail Wang

In an age where most people strive to make our environment greener, it’s hard to know exactly what to do to be energy efficient. Essess, a start-up developed at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hopes to alleviate this issue by working with the United States government and utilities companies to cut down on energy loss with infrared technology.Co-founded in 2011 by Vinny Olmstead and Sanjay Sarma, a professor in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, Essess deploys cars that have thermal-imaging rooftop rigs that create heat maps of homes and buildings. This technology detects fixable leaks in places like windows, doors, and walls to point out where home and business owners are losing the most energy. The rigs have long-wave infrared and near-infrared radiometric cameras that capture heat signatures. In order to separate buildings from natural surroundings, a LiDAR system, which is technology used to create high-resolution maps, captures 3D images.

Essess provides information, like household and demographic data, to utilities companies to show which households leak the most energy and which owners are the most likely to make fixes. It can also determine heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) efficiency, which is easily 50% of the total energy a household uses. So far Essess has ran several trials with a variety of customers; it worked with the United States Department of Defense in military bases from upstate New York to southern states in order to see if the technology would be applicable in different climates. The technology rolled out onto the commercial market last November, targeted at power utility companies. It is currently in its fourth iteration, reflecting its on-going process to be used in the real world.

Energy efficiency, and the desire to pinpoint the source of energy waste, is a popular niche for several startups. Essess has a fair share of competitors, including FirstFuel Software, which is also based out of Massachusetts and plans to expand business to remotely evaluate commercial buildings’ energy waste. If Essess, and other startups like it, is successful in helping reduce energy loss, individuals and companies alike could save billions of dollars.


Chernova, Yuliya. “Heat-Mapping Startup Essess Picks Up $10.8 Million to Scan for Energy Leaks.” Wall Street Journal: 20 November 2014.


Essess Company website (2015).


Matheson, Rob. “Thermal-Imaging Quickly Tracks Energy Leaks in Homes and Buildings.” SciTechDaily: 5 January 2015.



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