Home Energy Player Control4 Raises $15M

Update: It’s time for the home energy management firms that have been leading the pack to bulk up. Home automation company Control4, which moved into the energy management space in the Summer of 2009, is in the process of raising $25 million in a combination of equity, options and security, and has closed $15 million of that round, according to a filing.

Investors listed on the filing include Frazier Technology Ventures’ Partner Len Jordan, vSpring Capitals’ Scott Petty, and Thomas Weisel Venture Partners’ Andy Sessions. Updated: Control4 clarifies that these are current investors and says “This round is funded by 3 strategic [unnamed] investors and will be used to accelerate Control4’s global expansion, growth in the energy sector and expanding licensing opportunities.”

Six-year-old Control4 raised over $50 million before this round, so if it raises the entire amount of this latest financing, it will have banked close to $75 million in funding. Other startups that have done well in this space, have looked to ramp up funding recently, too, including OPower, which closed $50 million late last year.

Control4 sells wireless devices and services to utilities for home energy management. For example, last week at the smart grid-focused Distributech show, Control4 announced a new deal to provide at least 20,000 of Control4?s home energy devices and software to Nevada utility NV Energy. In the utility world, 20,000 home energy devices is a sizable deployment, and Control4 called the deal “the first true rollout — not a pilot — of customer-driven demand response using home area network technologies.”

Utilities like NV Energy can use Control4?s tools to do residential demand response, which is basically asking customers to turn down their energy in various ways when the utility wants to more tightly manage the grid’s power use. In exchange for turning down their energy use, customers who participate in the demand response programs can get rebates and lower power rates.

Control4’s offering is focused on home devices and demand response right now, though the company is also interested in using its software on third-party home devices like the iPad. As I pointed out last week, the high-end home energy device market seems like it’s struggling.

OPower, on the other hand, started out with analytics and software that helps utilities create detailed energy bills. One day both devices and analytics will be important for getting utility customers to reduce overall home energy consumption, but the market for both is still so new right now. At our Green:Net 2011 event on April 21, in San Francisco, the CEO of OPower and the CEO of Control4 will discuss the home energy market and the merits of their different offerings.

Home energy is just one aspect of Control4’s service — it also provides home automation for home security systems and home media management. Telcos have recently been investing in home automation and Motorola bought 4Home last year while AT&T acquired Xanboo.

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