EnergySavvy Finds Unexpected Support from Governments Looking to Spur Retrofits

10/14/10

When EnergySavvy rolled out its online energy audit tool in February, CEO Aaron Goldfeder thought it would appeal directly to consumers. But he quickly learned that the company had a second opportunity, one that the founding team had initially overlooked—government and non-profit programs, and utilities companies.

“When we launched EnergySavvy.com, we really had no plans of working with government programs or utilities. But they wanted to work with us,” Goldfeder says.

EnergySavvy’s online tool allows consumers to input information about their home for free online, and immediately gain access to information about how to retrofit homes to be more energy efficient, along with referrals to contractors who can do the work. Ideally, this ought to help consumers reduce their home’s carbon emissions, and enable people to save money on monthly utility bills. In a recent survey of 75,000 customers using the tool, EnergySavvy found that 80 percent of visitors who start the online energy audit complete it, and of those who complete the audit, the likelihood that they will request an energy efficiency contractor to come to their home increases by as much as 10-fold.

“Not only does it have a use, but it performs. Our mission is to help get homes more energy efficient, and one of the best ways we can do that is to get contractors into homes,” he says. “This tool does that and it will be the first of many.”

This success rate, according to Goldfeder, has caught the attention of utilities companies and government programs nationwide.

“We literally got cold calls from government programs and utilities,” he says. “As it turns out, this is a service that those programs and utilities need, and it fits in with our core mission of getting contractors into homes.”

When we last checked in with EnergySavvy in August, the startup had just announced its first government partnership, with Utah Home Performance. The project, which is backed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Utah State Energy Program, uses EnergySavvy’s audit tool to help homeowners across the state of Utah gauge their own energy efficiency.

On October 7, the company rolled out its second utilities partnership, with the Energy Trust of Oregon, providing a self-serve tool for homeowners looking for pre-diagnosis information for their homes, and guidance to the resources and services provided by Energy Trust.

With two such deals inked in two months, Goldfeder says government projects and utilities companies have become a major part of EnergySavvy’s business plan moving forward—so much so, in fact, that last month it rolled out a new online audit tool specifically designed for such partnerships.

“This is not a one-off for us, it’s a core strategy,” he says.

While state governments in Utah and Oregon have turned into enthusiasts for the EnergySavvy auditing tool, the company hasn’t had much luck where it is actually based, in Washington state.

“Initially we had some trouble,” Goldfeder says. “As a local company, we had talked to some folks at local utilities and programs, and I think the practical interest was lukewarm. He remains hopeful, however, that Washington utilities will come around as the company gains traction, and legislation continues to provide more incentives for local utilities to get on board with federal energy efficiency standards.

Up until now EnergySavvy has been so busy working to service the customers it already has, according to Goldfeder, that it put local projects on the back burner, so to speak. But that won’t last much longer—Goldfeder is eager to churn out more partnerships, like the two with Utah and Oregon, both nationally and, hopefully, a little closer to home.

“Gratefully we’ve had more customers interested than we know what to do with,” he says, adding, “We would love nothing more than to really help programs and utilities in their region hit even higher cost effective savings goals.”

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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