Renewing Home Energy with Kathy Hannun from Dandelion Energy
The technology for geothermal heating and cooling of homes has been around for decades, but several factors have prevented this technology from scaling in the United States — until recently. The heating and cooling of buildings is responsible for around 20% of US greenhouse gas emissions, and a greater awareness of the negative impacts of these gasses, combined with an increase in the price of fossil fuels, has created conditions for geothermal energy companies to thrive. Today’s guest is Kathy Hannun, the founder and President of Dandelion Energy, which is privately held, and the largest home geothermal company in the United States. Before founding Dandelion, she was a Rapid Evaluator at X, Alphabet’s innovation lab, where she focused on identifying business opportunities to harness technology for large-scale positive impact. She initiated Dandelion as an X project and then launched it into an independent startup company in May 2017. In today’s episode you will learn about the process behind heating/cooling your house in this way, and the money a household might save by going this route. Kathy also explains how she became involved in the geothermal energy space, and how she and her team are overcoming the challenges of working in this rapidly growing industry.
Key Points from this Episode
- Kathy explains how geothermal heating and cooling works in a home environment.
- The contribution of the heating/cooling of buildings to the US’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
- Factors that have made it possible to scale geothermal energy in recent years, as Dandelion Energy is doing.
- Vertical integration that Kathy has incorporated into the Dandelion Energy business model.
- Differences between the solar energy and geothermal energy industries.
- Incentives that are used to encourage the purchasing of heat pumps.
- The variety of factors that make one heat pump different from another.
- Why many new home builders are opposed to installing heat pumps, and how Kathy and her team are working to overcome this obstacle.
- Kathy’s experience working at X, and how her ties to the company have benefited Dandelion Energy.
- The money that a household might save on operating costs when using a geothermal heating/cooling system as opposed to a fossil fuel-based energy source.
- Dandelion Energy’s biggest challenge at the moment.
- Kathy explains the process of figuring out what the size of a ground loop should be.
- Examples of homes that are not well suited to geothermal technologies, and how Dandelion Energy is trying to work around these limitations.
- Who should consider getting a geothermal heat pump, and who should look into air source heat pumps instead.