Remembering how critical buildings are in efficiency

While companies like Tesla often make headlines, I’m often reminded that it’s other areas where energy use in the US plays a very significant role. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption occurs in residential and commercial buildings. Worldwide buildings, excluding facilities used for producing, processing or assembling goods, accounts for 20 percent of total worldwide consumption of delivered energy. Buildings use lots of energy, something one can forget over here in temperate California.

VCs are aware of this opportunity to make a significant dent in energy consumption and produce a valuable ROI for customers. In many ways, the Nest thermostat was just playing on this theme of maximizing efficiency in the home. Startup BuildingIQ is another effort to create more efficient buildings with software-as-a-service solution that uses analytics to fine tune major building energy consumption centers like the HVAC system. Across the board there are opportunities in buildings because the ROI is real.

Next Living, a startup that helps customers find energy services ranging from rooftop solar to window replacement, recently nabbed $25 million in venture capital. It will uses its raised capital to expand beyond its current operational territories of Massachusetts and Connecticut. A one stop shop for making your home more energy efficient is a great idea but as always the trick is to move beyond the die hard energy nerds who already like the idea of tracking their energy use and improving it.

The average U.S. electricity bill is around a $100 a month, which isn’t small but also isn’t huge. Many of the efficiency measures pay off over many years and thus are more geared toward long term homeowners or landlords responsible for paying utilites.

But, still, a web site with a great user experience to convince homeowners of the value of investing in efficiency measures and solar, along with solid follow up and easy implementation, would go a long way toward making these measures more mainstream.