On a street in downtown Houston, 12 households have been set up with the latest and greatest in home energy technology as part of a Reliant project intended to open minds to new ways to use less energy and save more money. The residents of the street, dubbed “Reliant Innovation Avenue,” will provide feedback to Reliant for the next two years, describing how the technology impacts their electricity use in everyday life. This feedback will allow Reliant to improve their products and services to a wider consumer base.
The upgrades were specifically tailored to meet each homeowner’s needs. The technology installed included home energy monitors, smart appliances, solar panels and home automation technology. Each home also received an energy checkup, which resulted in some homes having insulation installed or air-conditioning systems tuned up.
The energy monitoring and planning technology includes services such as the e-Sense Weekly Summary, which gives info on energy used and its estimated costs via email or text each week, or the e-Sense Online Account Management (OAM), which compiles and analyzes the information from the Weekly Summary, allowing consumers to see their electricity use in detail and plan more efficient use in the future. The e-Sense App and Reliant Text Alerts allow customers to access their information receive notification when a bill is due or if electricity use is exceeding the plans they’ve set. The Time-of-Use Plan shows consumers when electricity prices are highest, and helps consumers schedule their electricity use at cheaper times.
The project seems to be making an impact. In Reliant’s promotional materials, Douglas Shoemaker, a Reliant customer and recipient of the technology, said he noticed usage and cost spikes immediately. “At first I was freaked out by the daily cost of running the (air conditioning) on really hot days, and then I noticed the uptick on days when we ran the clothes dryer – I was really surprised,” he said. “With the home energy monitor, we know how much it actually costs to use our appliances every day.”