Flashy thermostats often dominate utility demand-side management programs for residential customers. But for companies that want to do the dirty work of helping utilities grow their energy-efficiency programs on all sides, rather than just introducing new peak reduction programs, flexible software is becoming a vital part of landing utility contracts. EnergySavvy

 just raised $7 million for its cloud software solution for government and utility energy-efficiency programs. The new funding will be used to accelerate product development and expand sales.  

The Seattle-based company started with an online audit tool that helped utilities target customers for their energy efficiency programs. It now offers an enterprise platform that brings the entire stakeholder chain -- from customers to contractors to the utility -- into one place. Although the company started out focusing on the residential sphere, EnergySavvy now supports C&I programs as well.

In some cases, it’s a matter of transferring a utility program from a paper-based one to the cloud. Often, EnergySavvy can bring value just by integrating with legacy systems into one back-end system.

“The Carter-era approach to energy efficiency that got us here won’t get us to the future that’s needed. Utilities have an incredible opportunity to hit their ever-increasing goals, provide more value to their customers and do it all at a lower cost and risk profile,” said Aaron Goldfeder, CEO and co-founder of EnergySavvy.

Today, there's not just money in bringing utility programs into the 21st century. There's also opportunities to be had in energy efficiency spending. Ratepayer-funded spending on utility energy-efficiency programs more than doubled in the period 2006 to 2008 to $4.8 billion, and funding for the programs is expected to double again by 2025, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

EnergySavvy is hardly alone in going after efficiency dollars. On the commercial side, a number of companies are trying to help utilities manage their efficiency programs and better target customers. EnergySavvy says that its enterprise platform, which can support efficiency programs for all utility customers, and not just those in certain sectors, stands out from the competition.

The approach has attracted some big-name clients, such as Arizona Public Service, TVA, CPS Energy and LIPA. EnergySavvy has about two dozen utility clients in total. In the past year alone, the startup picked up seven utilities, including National Grid and Northeast Utilities/NSTAR and two statewide programs, Efficiency Vermont and EnergyFit Nevada.

Prelude Ventures

, a San Francisco-based investment firm, led the funding round, joined by previous investor Pivotal. The company has raised $12 million in total. “So many cleantech companies have raised tens or hundreds of millions in venture funding with uncertain results,” Tim Woodward, managing director of Prelude Ventures, said in a statement. “We think now is the right time to put some additional capital behind the company’s momentum, as more and more utilities realize the software platform from EnergySavvy is the key to driving program effectiveness per dollar invested.”