One of the biggest steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint is to electrify your home. But often, that means navigating a confusing thicket of interconnected decisions and steps.

For example, before you buy an electric heat pump to replace a fossil-fuel-fired furnace, it’s a good idea to weatherize your home so it doesn’t take as much energy to heat and cool. Planning on installing solar panels? What size you get depends on how much energy you’ll need once your home is all-electric. Do you want to spring for a battery so you can draw on your stored solar power in the evenings, perhaps to charge an EV?

Can your electrical panel handle all this, or will it require an upgrade? And how much time and money is all of this going to cost?

If you’re overwhelmed by these myriad considerations, you’re not alone.

A few years ago, Eric Reinhardt, a former software product director at Sunrun, interviewed a couple dozen homeowners who had gone through the home-electrification process. Hearing about their experiences led him to realize just how confusing and onerous it could be.

I started asking [myself], what do we need to actually build to make this easy for customers?” he said. His answer to that question is Helio Home, the Denver-based company he co-founded in 2021. It’s a one-stop shop where, instead of calling five to 10 contractors, you’re calling one,” he said. Instead of trying to manage and be a general contractor yourself, you’re getting a…holistic net-zero plan” — a plan, in other words, to enable your home to produce as much energy as it consumes.

Customized net-zero plans

Last year, Sekhar Paladugu and his husband Jim Burgess decided they wanted to electrify their home, but they ran into an unexpected problem: reluctant contractors. The couple lives in Denver, and because their 3,700-square-foot, four-bed, four-bath home was split into two heating and cooling zones, they had two gas furnaces and two AC units.

Burgess and Paladugu wanted to swap those four HVAC units for one air-source heat pump. Paladugu called more than a dozen contractors, but he couldn’t find one who’d go along with the couple’s desire to jettison gas completely. Nobody would quote it for me,” he said. The few installers who would even consider it were adamant about keeping a furnace online for backup.

Then Paladugu reached out to Helio Home. Instead of naysaying, the startup designed a roadmap for fully electrifying the couple’s home and brought on contractors aligned with their vision.

Burgess was thrilled. I didn’t think it was really possible,” he said.

Helio provides all customers with customized, comprehensive net-zero plans, which encompass pretty much everything that goes into clean-energy dream homes: insulation, air sealing, ventilation, solar panels, heat pumps, induction stoves, EV charging, battery storage and more.

The plans also show customers estimated costs, emissions reductions, energy-efficiency improvements, and annual rates of energy production and consumption, Reinhardt said. Then we give [customers] the option of going down that roadmap at their pace” — whatever that might be.

Some homeowners are ready for it all,” he said. Their mentality is the patient is on the table; let’s just do the whole surgery.” 

Others prefer to take things piecemeal, replacing equipment as it ages out, he said. When they’re ready for the next thing on the list, we’re ready to come in and install it.”

So far, Helio Home has served more than 100 homes in the Denver area, helping each to avoid emitting, on average, 5 to 8 metric tons of carbon a year.

Electrification nation

Helio is among a growing number of companies, as well as government- and utility-funded programs, springing up around the country to guide customers through the complicated and multifaceted process of home electrification. Most serve distinct territories and regions, partnering with local electricians, plumbers and HVAC installers to carry out the work.

Some notable startups include Elephant Energy, which, like Helio Home, operates in the Denver metro area; Amply Energy, which operates primarily in Maine; BlocPower, a Brooklyn-based company that has programs in communities in California, Colorado, Illinois, New York and Wisconsin; and Sealed, which serves customers predominantly in the Northeast and eastern Midwest: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Wisconsin and parts of Pennsylvania and Illinois. Like Helio, these companies take on the role of general contractor, managing the many pieces of a home-electrification project from start to finish.

Bay Area startup QuitCarbon takes a different tack: The company develops electrification roadmaps for customers, but instead of managing the work itself, it refers customers to vetted contractors whom the customers pay directly.

If you’re looking for a whole-home electrification service near you, QuitCarbon has a handy list of home-electrification companies and programs in the U.S. and beyond.

Table of home electrification companies and programs grouped by their service territories, including the Bay Area, Colorado.
QuitCarbon’s list of home electrification companies and programs and their service territories (QuitCarbon)

Paying for home electrification

As you might imagine, home-electrification upgrades aren’t cheap. So different companies have different approaches for helping customers afford them, including financing, leasing equipment or monthly charges based on guaranteed energy-bill savings.

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