Earth911 explores the circular economy potential of subscription hot-water-as-a-service programs with Gordon Olson, co-founder and CEO of Fairfield, Montana-based Torii Industries. The startup is committed to making “green water heating available to all.” They are launching a “hot-water-as-a-service” business that provides customers with a newly patented water heater design that eliminates the oxidation issues caused by traditional metal heating elements. Available through a monthly subscription, the Torii water heater uses a carbon foam element to rapidly heat water to a uniform temperature — it’s more efficient than traditional water heating. The inline, tankless water heater is more energy-efficient than conventional tank heaters. It also connects to a WiFi network to help you track energy use and identify issues before they interrupt service — Torii will deploy a plumber to fix a problem before it becomes evident to the homeowner.
Olson explains how Torii plans to grow a network of local plumbers who can install and service subscription water heaters. While subscription business models for essential home products may challenge homeowners’ ideas about ownership, they promise to recapture the materials so that they can be recycled. The Torii app will also provide customers with guidance about their energy use.