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Quilt rides heat pump heat with huge $33M Series A funding

Heat pumps are having a moment right now. For the second year in a row, they outsold gas furnaces, and homeowners who install them are eligible to receive thousands of dollars in incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act. But they’re not growing as fast as they should. Getting consumers to adopt new technology isn’t always easy, especially when it’s something as basic as heating and cooling.

Consumer hesitancy has been a major concern for Paul Lambert as he works to bring Quilt’s new heat pump to market.

“No matter where people come from or what their situation is, we want them to feel like they’re leveling up today,” Lambert, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch.

Heat pumps differ enough from their existing heating and air conditioning units to give many consumers pause. Some of them are design: The most common ones installed inside the house use mini-splits, which are basically large plastic appliances that hang high on the wall. It’s not exactly something you can be proud to show off to your friends.

Quilt says its heat pump will solve these problems and promises a sleeker design that can fit in more places around a room than rival products. The company has only released one teaser image so far. It looks promising, but we’ll have to wait until the finished product is released on May 15 to make a final judgment. The company designed the core of the system in-house, but it is working with manufacturing partners to produce the units.

Design isn’t the only challenge traditional heat pumps face. Many customers are turned off by the way they do business. In most homes, a single small split (called a “head”) is responsible for heating and cooling a single room. Each head has its own thermostat or remote, which means if someone wants to adjust the temperature of the entire house, they need access to every room.

Instead, Quilt has centralized control over its system. There’s still a head for each room, which also has a way of sensing temperature, but users only need one physical control to adjust set points throughout the home. As an alternative, they can also use Quilt’s app.

“If you have a thermostat in your bedroom and you want to make sure you turn off the living room, or you want to change the temperature in a child’s room or somewhere else, you can just swipe to that room and do it from the thermostat,” Lambert explain. If you don’t feel like adjusting individual rooms, “you can also set the temperature for the entire house with the thermostat.”

The Quilt’s control setup hints at a level of integration that most consumer heat pumps don’t offer.

“It’s kind of like a mesh network of Wi-Fi that works together to heat and cool the house,” co-founder and CTO Matt Knoll told TechCrunch. “But they also have all the control over every space.”

In addition to the usual thermostat, each quilt head is equipped with a millimeter wave occupancy sensor. Most heat pumps are equipped with passive infrared sensors, which tend to send false vacancy signals when someone is not moving, such as while watching TV or sleeping. Quilt’s sensors don’t suffer from this problem. The company’s software uses data from these sensors to map rooms to determine when people are present, but Lambert noted that it doesn’t create an actual image.

“We’re not putting cameras in anyone’s home. These are just signals on a chart that when interpreted just means there’s someone here or there’s no one there,” he said. “This gives us confidence in when a room is empty, which means we can’t waste energy heating and cooling an empty room.”

In anticipation of its upcoming product launch, Quilt has raised $33 million in Series A funding led by Energy Impact Partners and Galvanize Climate Solutions, with participation from Garage Capital, Gradient Ventures, Incite Ventures, MCJ Collective, Lowercarbon Capital and “Property Brother” Drew Among them, Scott. That’s a huge amount considering the company announced a $9 million seed round less than a year ago.

The startup plans to use the new funding to expand its marketing efforts and installation capabilities. Quilt’s heat pumps will be rolled out in a few areas initially before expanding further. “It’s like we’ve built this core R&D organization and now we’re transforming into a real company,” Lambert said.

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