04 / 01 / 2018
The goal of the Smart Homes Kick Start Project is to reduce the cost burden of high utility bills and resource waste through weatherization, training, and smart technology in partnership with service providers and innovative companies. By lowering utility bills the Kick Start Project will help people to remain in place and alleviate financial burdens. Through testing smart homes devices and collecting data on savings, the project can help educate residents on how technology can improve quality of life.
This has been done through two phases:
The Duke Energy Neighborhood Energy Savings Program installed basic weatherization and energy and water saving measures in the homes of 70% of the homes in the older neighborhoods of the North End on their own funding mid-2017. As part of our partnership, Duke distributed a survey to homeowners that gave the City critical information about other needs and identifying households that qualify for City programs. Over 45 households were identified in that distributed survey for the City’s Safe Home program as likely eligible for the program and received targeted outreach.
We managed the second phase of the project which was a partnership with Duke Energy, Amazon and Intel around Smart Home technology in income qualifying neighborhoods. They identified the North End as the location to collaborate with up to 40 interested households. This project installed and tested free smart home bundles (HUB: Amazon Echo Dot/Intel Gateway, Smart Plugs (2x), Thermostat, First Response Smart Fire Alarm, Amazon Prime, Smart Strip, Light Bulbs, 30-day support with Amazon) for participants. The residents who participated in the project were given ongoing support, training and information regarding their smart home devices and performance. In addition to usage data, monthly surveys were completed to gain valuable information on perceived performance and impact on quality of life. The data collection is the basis for the next phase of the project being rolled out in 2019.
We are working with community partner RETI (Renewable Energy Transition Initiative) a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization to provide support and training for all the program participants, as well as for the broader community on energy and cost-savings techniques to reduce the energy burden (percentage of income spent on energy) in the area. DeAndrea Salvador even presented on our work at the TED conference last year.