Genesis Energy is making a play to distinguish itself from other power firms, using a cluster of homes in Auckland to trial plug-in energy saving devices.

The state-owned company is using technology from a Californian firm in 15 houses in Devonport, which is seen as a forerunner to larger trials.

Big power companies have lost - and gained - tens of thousands of customers over the past two years as consumers chase better deals.

Genesis says it is hoping to cement loyalty by offering new technology.


"It's about providing services and products that nobody else has got. You can't live in the same space as everybody else for too long," said a spokesman.

In the "Tomorrow Street" trial, households will undergo an energy assessment at the start of the programme to ascertain how energy efficient their home is.

Improvements will be made depending on the results and may include insulation, installation of energy-efficient hot water systems and eco-friendly appliances.

Over the 18-month period, the trial may include a home energy management system, photovoltaic solar panels, solar hot water systems, heat pump hot water cylinders and smartphone applications to manage home energy use.

The Genesis spokesman said technology from GreenWave would allow consumers to monitor the data from the appliances, control them and switch them on and off remotely.

The price of the technology is likely to be less than $1000.