After living one year on the most energy-conscious block in the nation, Reliant Innovation Avenue residents have reduced their electricity usage by an average of 16 percent, with one home achieving a 32 percent reduction in electricity usage. These results strongly suggest that when homeowners are given the right tools, upgrades and information about their electricity usage, they can change their habits and significantly reduce electricity use.
Innovation Avenue consists of 12 homes ranging in age from recently built to more than a century old. In October 2011, each home received a customized set of energy efficiency upgrades and smart energy technology products and services, designed to provide them with detailed information about their electricity usage and costs.
These tools, some from Reliant’s suite of e-Sense® Smart Energy Solutions, include home energy monitors, weekly summary emails detailing their energy usage and estimated costs, solar panels and home automation. In addition, several residents received insulation and an air conditioning inspection and tune-up based on their individual needs. Residents also participated in a pilot program for smart appliances and Reliant’s Filters Made Easy® service in which new filters were delivered directly to the residents homes when it was time for replacement.
For the one-year anniversary, Reliant compared Innovation Avenue residents’ electricity usage to their usage prior to modifying their homes. The results of the living laboratory experiment on Innovation Avenue have revealed that:
+Informing residents about their electricity usage caused them to use less electricity. Residents saw decreases between one and 32 percent in electricity used over the last year as compared to the previous year. The results varied from one home to the next depending on services provided and the residents’ engagement with the technologies installed in their homes.
+Residents consistently utilized the Reliant e-Sense® Home Energy Monitor. By being able to regularly see how much electricity their homes were using in real time, residents could see when their electricity usage peaked and make instant decisions to affect their usage.
+Installing solar panels has allowed one resident the ability to create electricity, not just use it. The home of Innovation Avenue residents Scott and Carol Beck was outfitted with Reliant Solar Solutions, a residential solar panel leasing program. In one year, the solar panels generated 2,927 kWh, saving Scott and Carol 15 percent on their electricity usage.
“The nation can learn a lot from Innovation Avenue because it demonstrates that people can considerably reduce their electricity usage when they understand how they use it and make choices that are right for them,” said Elizabeth Killinger, President of Reliant. “It’s remarkable to have the data from a living laboratory with real families and even children interacting with smart energy technology to prove that it works and the whole family can work together to conserve.”
Residents said the Reliant e-Sense® Home Energy Monitor, manufactured by Tendril, was one of their favorite tools. It helped them understand their electricity usage and monthly bills and allowed them to visualize the consumption of electricity when various appliances were in use. Once they became aware of their electricity usage, they looked for ways to modify their habits which helped reduce their electricity usage and costs. Reliant also distributed the Reliant e-Sense® Home Energy Monitors to over 10,000 customers across Texas.
Using this direct feedback from Innovation Avenue residents, Reliant developed the Reliant e-Sense® Now application, a second generation smart energy tool designed to bring the real-time information available on the Reliant e-Sense® Home Energy Monitor along with additional electricity usage information directly to the customer’s smart phone or tablet. Visit www.reliant.com/now to learn more about the new Reliant e-Sense® Now application.
“I enjoy using the eSense Now app on the iPad. I like the portability of course, but most of all, I like the ease of being able to get that much information in an instantaneous way. Daily, weekly and monthly summaries, literally, at my fingertips,” said Gil Costas, Innovation Avenue resident.
Reliant exclusively offers a Learn and Conserve Plan that includes a Nest Learning Thermostat. The Nest thermostat was added to one home about mid-way through the year. Within about a month of installing the Nest, using the Energy History feature, Costas discovered that his air conditioning unit was nearing the end of its life and running 20 hours a day to cool his home. With this information he was able to proactively replace the unit and his total home electricity usage dropped by 40 percent.
“My favorite gadget has become the Nest Learning thermostat. It is amazing that the thermostat has been able to learn the habits of the house occupants, and adjusted itself accordingly,” Costas said.
The Reliant Innovation Avenue project was conceived and implemented with the input and cooperation of the City of Houston. Reliant leads Texas in bringing the benefits of smart energy technology to consumers with more than 700,000 Reliant customers already using Reliant e-Sense® products and services.
Reliant provides electricity, energy services and smart energy solutions to more than 1.5 million retail customers including homes, businesses, manufacturing facilities, government entities and institutions in Texas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. As part of NRG (NYSE: NRG), Reliant is backed by a Fortune 500 company that is at the forefront of changing how people think about and use energy. NRG is a pioneer in developing cleaner and smarter energy choices for its customers and its diverse power generating facilities can support over 20 million homes nationwide. For more information about Reliant products and services, please visit www.reliant.com. Connect with Reliant on Facebook at facebook.com/reliantenergy and on Twitter @reliantenergy.