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Energy efficiency company offers to pay clients' utility bills: 'We've got it all on the line'

"We don't get any money."

"We don't get any money."

Photo Credit: iStock

Connecticut's Budderfly has a bold proposal for sustainability-minded business owners. 

After providing a litany of energy-efficient upgrades, Budderfly will pay their clients' utility bills. 

It's a different take on sustainability services that Canary Media's Jeff St. John calls "a novel way to cut through the morass." 

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that about 30% of energy used in commercial spaces is surprisingly wasted. Reducing that number is where Budderfly makes its gains by upgrading refrigeration controls, LED lighting, and HVACs, among other improvements. 

The operation has some fresh air under its wings, as well, in the form of a $400 million loan. That adds to a $500 million investment from 2022. 

"I want the customer to know we've got it all on the line," CEO Al Subbloie told Canary.

That's partly because if the upgrades — also including smart thermostats, solar solutions, and water conservation — don't lower energy use, Budderfly eats it. 

"We don't get any money," Subbloie said. The good news is that he and his team are confident in their technology and approach. The more energy that's saved, the more money they make. 

Budderfly profits by billing its customers for utilities at a 5% discount. This provides immediate savings for the clients. It "covers its own payback costs with the next 15% … and earns its revenue from additional savings up to about 30%," per the Canary report. Further savings are split with the client. 

Subbloie started the company in 2008. It has undergone some metamorphosis in approach during the years to provide a more hands-on solution monitored with analytics and energy forecasting. 

The company is led by a robust executive team that includes 15 "pioneering technologists," headed by Subbloie. Their mission is to help businesses monetize efficiency by righting even small "energy mishaps," like routinely leaving lights turned on. 

As part of the program, there are no upfront costs for clients. Budderfly provides the capital, equipment installation, maintenance, and monitoring, all per its website. 

"We're going to take 100% of the risk," Subbloie said. "We ensure that you meet your energy goals with cutting-edge equipment and software."

Results have been promising so far, according to Canary's reporting. Some of the restaurants and stores Budderfly works with have reduced energy costs by up to 35%. Wendy's, Midas, and McDonald's are on the client list

The model has allowed the company to double its revenue and customer base. Budderfly has 6,000 clients and earned $110 million last year. 

It's part of an overall mindset toward so-called passive building, which better utilizes natural elements and efficient design for more sustainable living. Simply unplugging some unused chargers and appliances at home can save you around $165 a year, on average, as a basic example. 

Budderfly takes it to another level, typically working with clients throughout a 10-year contract. Customers who want out need to pay a buyout, as well as cover some of the installed equipment costs, all per Canary. 

The results from success stories can be impressive. 

"Budderfly delivered on their promise of energy savings and facility upgrades all at no cost to us," McDonald's franchise owner Joe Rodriguez said.

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