Smart Energy Home

Our Smart Energy Home

PowerNet wants to know more about smart energy technologies that mean improved energy efficiencies and savings for our customers.

That’s why we’ve equipped a standard two-bedroom home in Invercargill with smart energy technologies.

Technologies that include solar panels, battery storage, energy smart appliances, heat pump powered hot water and space heating, and an electric vehicle with a home-charging station.

Partnering with a family who want to live in our smart energy house, we’re hoping to learn more about the everyday use of these technologies, their efficiencies and benefits. We want to understand how a family adapts to using these technologies and how their energy use changes. Our innovative Smart Energy Home project is the next step in understanding future energy use trends and their impact.

We’ll gather data that’ll show us patterns in how individual technologies perform and interact. This information will help us plan the best way to manage the south’s electricity assets in the future.

Our Smart Energy Home at 245 Racecourse Road, Invercargill.

Smart Energy Home Features

Our smart energy home is equipped with some key technologies that aim to make living more energy efficient, including:

  • Solar generation from PV panels and an inverter. Using the sun’s energy, solar panels offer a renewable, green source of energy that can be used to power your home.
  • Battery storage. The ability to store electrical energy in a battery means power can be conveniently drawn from the grid when electricity prices are lower without having to change when you use your electricity. If you have solar generation installed you can charge up your battery while the sun shines and then continue using solar energy after the sun goes down.
  • Hot water powered by a heat pump. This can be two to three times more efficient than using conventional electric resistance water heaters. Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. They operate like a refrigerator in reverse.
  • Electric vehicle. These reduce the environmental footprint because an electric vehicle (EV) uses New Zealand’s mostly renewable electricity resource. EVs cost less to run and are quiet to travel in, offering great acceleration and a smooth ride.
  • Electric vehicle charging station. An onsite electric vehicle charging station offers convenience and saves time, as charging can be done at home.

The home also features insulation, LED lighting and heat pumps for space heating. A monitoring and display telemetry system is installed. This technology will allow us to monitor electricity used by each of the key technologies and gather data that helps us to better understand their contribution to energy efficiencies.

The home’s electricity pricing plan aims to incentivise the tenants to be smart about energy use.

Apply to live in our Smart Energy Home

A key goal is to better understand customer perspectives and management of electricity usage and savings.

This means we’re looking for a community partner—a family who would like to live in our smart energy home for approximately a year with free use of an electric vehicle (subject to our terms and conditions). In return, our partner family will share experiences using the technologies installed and help us promote the project through social and print media. PowerNet will gather data on energy use and consumption throughout the tenancy.

If this sounds like you and you’ve got an interest in learning more about energy efficiency and smart technologies and using them first-hand, then we’d like to hear from you. To apply, please complete an application form and submit this to

Got a question about the project?

You might find the answer below. If not email us at

What is the rent?

You will pay market rental of $340.00 per week.

I understand that I have free use of the electric car. Which bills will I pay?

You will pay rental throughout the term of the tenancy, and in addition there will be a bond of up to 4 weeks rental payable at the commencement of the tenancy.

Further, you will need to pay for electricity, which will include electricity used to power the electric vehicle. However, the house’s smart technology will help you make significant savings on your energy costs.

You’ll also pay for the other usual household expenses such as a phone and internet connection, for example.

Do I need to keep the property tidy?  

As with a typical tenancy, you’ll be required to take reasonable care to look after the property and keep it tidy.

Will the house be furnished? 

The house is unfurnished, although some appliances are provided and equipped with features that support smart energy use.

How much time will the promotional activities take and how regularly will they happen?

You’ll need to be available on occasions for some promotional activities. There may be other interviews for print that you’ll be asked to assist us with.

PowerNet will do its best to work with you and accommodate these activities at times that suit you and your family and in a way that meets your requirements.

How much privacy will my family have?

Apart from the promotional activities outlined above, you’ll be able to get on with daily life as normal. However, please note that data on consumption of energy related devices will be collected and will be available to view online by the public.

We will not carry out video surveillance of the property, however we may video some promotional activities (with your consent).

How will the collection of information about my family’s energy use impact on our daily living?

You’ll have online access to your energy usage data and trends. This means you can view energy use patterns and adjust it to make further savings if you want to.

We’ll monitor and collect all data remotely so it won’t have an impact on your daily living because we won’t need to visit your home to do this. If we note any potential for further savings we may pass these on at our regular catch ups.

What happens if I can’t continue living in the house and need to leave before the year is up?

Initially we’ll ask you to commit to the project for a year. This is because we want to have the benefit of a whole year of data that we can evaluate and consider. However, if circumstances beyond your control arise and you think you might need to leave the house earlier, then please discuss these with us.