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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Sealed, a startup that helps homeowners overcome cost barriers to efficiency upgrades and electrification, just raised $16 million to fuel its expansion into more states.

Why it matters: Many important climate tools rely on the far wider deployment of well-known methods and concepts — in this case upgrading homes to waste less energy.

Homes account for an estimated 20% of U.S. carbon emissions, and they can be lowered by addressing leaks and installing modern equipment.

Driving the news: The New York-based company raised the Series B funding from investors including the real estate-focused VC firm Fifth Wall and Robert Downey Jr.'s FootPrint Coalition Ventures.

How it works: Sealed assesses homes' energy profiles, drafts upgrade plans and oversees them.

  • It matches customers with contractors for services like better insulation and sealing, modernizing heating and cooling, and changing from oil heaters and boilers to electric heat — a way to cut emissions as grids get cleaner.
  • They cover upfront costs, track performance and structure repayment around how much energy is actually saved — the company vows that if energy use isn't reduced, it doesn't get paid.

The big picture: Sealed said it has now raised $33 million and has partnerships with all the major New York State power companies including Con Edison.

The company said the latest fundraise will help it expand beyond New York, starting with New Jersey and Connecticut, with launches in additional markets, eyed over the next year.

What they're saying: "Sealed is a company that's on a mission to take homes off of fossil fuels. And we're doing that by trying to modernize home heating and cooling," CEO and co-founder Lauren Salz tells Axios.

  • "What Sealed is doing is lowering the barriers to doing it by making it as easy and affordable as possible," she said.
  • Salz also said: "We've created technology that is very accurate at predicting people's future energy usage based on the improvements that they're going to make. And that's what enables us to have this unique financing product."

The intrigue: A big part of the pitch is to enhance comfort and value, not simply appeals to the planet or lowering energy bills, and Salz said this helps Sealed position itself.

  • "Traditionally...the value of the improvements has been undersold by just focusing on the planet or energy savings," she said.
  • The proposition "allows us to capture a much bigger portion of the market."

Go deeper

Columbus commits to large-scale solar park

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Construction will begin next year on a large-scale solar park located on the site of a former landfill in southern Columbus.

Why it matters: Local leaders are touting the project as part of a recent citywide emphasis on sustainable energy projects.

16 mins ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspend the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Chargés d'Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and non-essential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten embassy's ability to assist Americans.

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