If you’re like most people, your to-do list seems to expand rather than shrink. This likely means that the tasks that seem the least pressing keep finding their way to the bottom — like how to lower your energy consumption, or better manage your energy costs. In theory, you’d like to get a handle on them both — who doesn’t? — but the reality falls somewhere in between.
The good news is StarTex Power wants to help. Three StarTex Power technology pilots are in the works for energy management tools and services to help you easily monitor your energy use — which means that you could check that item off your to-do list forever!
Mike Wajsgras, director of channel development at Constellation, says developing StarTex Power technology pilots and energy use management services is a vital part of the company’s interest in relationship building. Customers are more than just people at the receiving end of a bill. Constellation, which serves small commercial and residential customers in Texas as StarTex Power, wants customers to feel part of the Constellation community.
“We feel that we need to differentiate ourselves and provide some value-added services and information to our customers that allow us to help them to use energy more wisely,” Wajsgras says. “We want to increase our ability to engage with customers in a different and more meaningful way.”
Developing StarTex Power technology pilots and energy management services is an evolution of that interest, he adds. “We’ve increased our engagement with customers through communication programs. We have expanded our media presence, our social media presence. We have newsletter communications with content, content on the web — all in an effort to help the education of our customers. The next evolution is to make that more real in the sense of either providing customers with better information about their own usage or advance notifications of potential issues with the HVAC systems.”
The customer-friendly pilots fall into two categories: apps and a home service program. HomeBeat, a free app powered by Bidgely, will allow customers to see how they consume energy. StarTex Power Energy Manager, another free app that is powered by Meter Genius, helps customers better understand and monitor their energy use, by using information provided through their smart meters. Finally, Comfort Guard is a home service that enables a participant to receive email alerts if something is amiss in his or her home HVAC system. The idea is that addressing smaller problems can help prevent larger — potentially more expensive — ones.
HomeBeat by Bidgely is a StarTex Power technology pilot program that focuses on helping consumers better monitor their daily electricity usage. Participants download the free HomeBeat app that sends information about their household energy use. It’s that easy. Information is updated daily. Participants receive usage alerts, a mid-month bill prediction about their usage, and appliance-level usage information. The result? HomeBeat app users can make more informed decisions about how they’re using the energy in their homes. No more guessing about how much energy that dryer uses! No more confusion about what time of day your energy use is highest!
The StarTex Power Energy Manager, powered by Meter Genius, is a six-month pilot that has both an online and app component. As the largest of the StarTex Power technology pilots, StarTex Power Energy Manager enables participants to see daily electricity usage from smart meters. The app also gives mid-month bill predictions — no more end-of-month energy bill surprises! — and provides tips on how to reduce household energy use.
StarTex Power Energy Manager participants can also sign up for a reward program that allows them to set energy use and energy efficiency goals. Think of it like a fitness tracker for energy consumption! If they meet those goals, they can earn certain rewards, which include Amazon e-gift cards or energy-efficient appliances.
The Comfort Guard pilot program will be offered in Texas as part of Constellation Home’s expanding home services offerings. Customers in the pilot will have 10 sensors added to their home HVAC system. These sensors monitor the HVAC system performance in a 32-point system, notifying homeowners of any irregularities or potential concerns via email. This 24/7 monitoring can identify issues before the homeowner might notice a problem — say, before the air conditioning system suddenly conks out and you’re left, literally, in the heat.
The email alerts include clear explanations about the issue, as well as recommended actions. Some of the actions might be DIY, like if it’s time to clean or change your HVAC air filter. Others might require professional help. The Comfort Guard sensors also offer suggestions for improving energy efficiency by providing monthly ratings and maintenance recommendations.
“The idea is to give an element of peace of mind,” Wajsgras says. “They can rely on us. We’re watching their backs, so to speak, proactively notifying them, and we have someone who can assess and then fix.”
The StarTex Power technology pilots and Comfort Guard are in varying degrees of being rolled out. Each pilot will last about six months. At that point Constellation will analyze the data and participants’ feedback to determine which programs might best help Constellation and StarTex Power customers manage energy consumption and costs.
Texans in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas can now worry about one less thing when it comes to maintaining their home — especially with summer on the horizon! That’s because StarTex Power and Constellation Home are offering a 2-in-1 plan that bundles your AC protection with your StarTex Power electricity plan.