SolarCity’s big Energy Efficiency plans

San Mateo-based SolarCity has made a name for itself as a national financier and installer of rooftop solar systems. But that’s not all that they do: energy efficiency is a growing part of the business. In May 2010, SolarCity acquired Building Solutions, and in March 2012 it began offering “Home Energy Loans.”

Now the company is introducing “Energy Explorer,” a software platform that is free for all new residential solar customers and gives them an in-depth tour of their home’s energy use. The software points homeowners to upgrades, like duct work, that they should get done as well as local contractors who can perform the job. SolarCity has conducted in-depth energy audits on about 16,000 customers nationwide so far, and developed the software based on all of those visits. The company makes money by matching the homeowners to contractors and getting a 10 to 20 percent referral fee.

“We’re moving away from having someone spend three hours walking through the house,” said Peter Rive, SolarCity’s co-founder and chief technology officer. “Customers like having this data at their fingertips and a menu of options.”

When homeowners sign up for rooftop Solar, SolarCity evaluates the home for solar but also records information related to energy use, such as details about heating and cooling, insulation, windows and the water heater.  Energy Explorer combines data from the evaluation with other critical information, from local weather information in the 14 states where the company has a footprint to a three-dimensional model of the building. Customers can then access the website and get a self-guided tour that points them to a list energy efficiency improvements as well as contractors.





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