An energy-efficient project

PowerNet senior network assets engineer Dyson Gentle charges the Smart Energy Home Project electric vehicle outside the company's Smart Energy Home Project house.

TECH-SAVVY Southlanders who fancy living rent-free for a year can now apply to become tenants of PowerNet’s two-bedroom Smart Energy Home Project house in Invercargill.

The tenancy also comes with free use of an electric vehicle and charging station installed at the property.

The company wants to chart what a smart energy future might look like in Southland.

PowerNet has kitted out a standard two-bedroom home with smart energy technologies and is calling for applications from families in the form of a 30-second video.

The video should explain why the family wants to live there.

PowerNet project manager Dyson Gentle said the company was ideally looking for a family, but it did not have a “set structure” of what constituted a family and anyone was welcome to apply.

The family – or at least one member of it – would have to be able to appear in front of a camera, as regular promotional obligations came with the tenancy, he said.

“We’re keen to let the house to a family that’s enthusiastic about new technologies which impact on energy use – that’s probably the most important thing.”

The home’s smart technology fittings include solar panels, battery storage, energy smart appliances and hot water powered by one of three heat pumps.

“We want to understand how a family adapts to these emerging technologies and how their energy use changes over time,” he said.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority senior technical adviser Christian Hoerning said the Smart Energy Home Project would be an interesting case study to discover which technologies were the most cost effective in Southland.

“Congratulations to PowerNet for providing the tenants with an electric vehicle. Charging an electric vehicle is equivalent to paying 30c per litre for your fuel.”

Mr Gentle said the Smart Energy Home Project would be an opportunity for the tenants to experience the technologies and contribute their own insights.

“This is the next step in understanding trends in future energy use and their impact. The information we gather will help us create best outcomes for our customers. We’re really excited about what we’ll potentially learn.”

Applications close on February 7 and a shortlist of three to five families will be selected.

The final decision will be made on February 14 and the project will start about a week later.

To learn more about the project and download an application form, go to

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