SolarCity Gets Into Energy Efficiency Business

SolarCity, which plans to go public later this year, announced that it’s applying the same solar finance model to home energy retrofits, by offering a national Home Energy Loan.

A typical U.S. family spends about $1,900 a year on home utility bills, but $40 of every $100 spent on heating and cooling is wasted because of duct and air leakage alone, says SolarCity.

SolarCity employs the increasingly popular solar leasing model, where homeowners and businesses can get solar on their roof without upfront installation costs. They merely pay for electricity, which is set at long term rates, protecting them from rising utility prices.

Similarly, SolarCity’s energy efficiency financing option eliminates the upfront cost of energy efficiency upgrades. The company performs an energy audit to diagnose the cause of high utility bills and energy loss, and then implements the upgrades needed.

Since 2010, when the company introduced energy efficiency services, it’s completed over 5,000 projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Texas. It’s now expanding to the east coast. 

The company says it uses proprietary software which performs billions of calculations during each evaluation to produce a simple, comprehensive report that provides an overview of the opportunities to improve efficiency across nine categories: air infiltration, insulation, heating and cooling and duct leakage.

Through its partnership with Boston-based Admirals Bank, which has a history as a home improvement lending leader, SolarCity customers can finance upgrades with 1-year, 3-year or 10-year options.

SolarCity raised another $81 million last month and is now the second biggest commercial solar installer in the US, after SunPower.

In November, 2011, SolarCity announced a deal with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to finance the debt portion of its $1 billion SolarStrong project to install solar PV on military housing across the US.

The project will double the number of residential solar systems in the US.

Over the next five years, SolarCity will install 371 MW of solar on as many as 120,000 military housing complexes in 33 states – the largest residential solar PV project in the US.

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