It’s that time of year when pundits look into the future and guess what the new year will hold. We’re always thinking ahead at Reliant, so we asked our experts what’s in store for the energy landscape in 2016, and they came up with some trends and predictions that will enhance the way people live this year and beyond:

The Customer Is Always in Charge
We believe one trend will dominate 2016: People will more frequently leverage other things outside wall plugs to get their energy. That’s where Reliant comes in. Although we have a long history in powering people at home, we are now powering people anywhere — because that’s what customers want and need given the mobile, connected lifestyle that is the new norm. And, to that end, we’re not just predicting the future, but we’re helping make it: We are committed to anticipating and delivering on consumer preferences because that’s what we do.

Reliant continues to evolve and expand into home automation, home security, portable power, and more. And we believe this portfolio of seamless home and mobile services will give customers the insights, choices, and convenient solutions to simplify their life and at the same time get them talking about which retail provider they count on for power and home control – from wherever they are, how they can generate their power and how we can be more energy efficient as well. That’s a national conversation we’re helping lead and excited to see grow.

Portable Power
The concept of charging your phone at an outlet is so 2015. In 2016, we’ll power customers at home and on the go. Two innovations from the NRG family ensure your charging needs will be met: NRG Go portable power and the NRG Street Charge® solar charging station. NRG Go portable power is a network of self-service stations that distribute NRG Go packs to those who need a quick charge. We developed the idea in-house and turned it from concept into reality, with a slick touchscreen experience currently offered in Houston.

NRG Street Charge stations are available globally and allow people to charge their mobile devices for free, using the sun’s energy captured by three solar panels atop each charging station. Users simply plug their phones or tablets into an available weather-resistant cable, rest their devices on the charging station’s wooden platforms, and power up as much as they need. We’re pleased both NRG Street Charge and NRG Go have been recognized as CES Innovation Award honorees for 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Savings Are Timeless
As Reliant transforms what an electric company offers by providing simple solutions to modern energy needs, we make it easier for people to save money on their power bills — a monthly expense over which some consumers feel they have little control. Reliant has changed that passive mentality to an active one that puts people first.

Depending on a household’s needs and time of year, we provide energy-saving tips that people can apply with simple ease to get results. The Reliant Predictable 12 plan also delivers great value, peace of mind, and budget certainty, as you’ll know exactly how much your monthly bill will be each year regardless of the season or your usage. When it comes to giving consumers the information they need, that’s one trend we’ve led in years before and we’ll continue to lead in years to come.

So with 2015 behind us, we’re excited for the year ahead, when more people will engage with electricity in ways once considered too far-fetched or futuristic. And, in keeping with Reliant’s people-first mentality, we’d love to hear your thoughts on energy in the comments below. Your insights just might help shape and realize our predictions this year and beyond.

*Reliant PUCT Certificate #10007


10 easy ways to save energy and money in the new year

New Year's Savings

It turns out we’re not all that different come January 1. The New Year’s resolutions that crop up on our lists often sort into common categories: health and wellness, education, personal relationships, and finances.

At Reliant, we may not be able to help you with exercise or love, but when it comes to money, that’s a different thing. There’s a simple way to save cash every month that requires little effort — simply fine-tune your energy consumption by implementing Reliant’s home-energy saving tips.

Here are our top suggestions:

Lower your thermostat in the winter to reduce your energy usage. For every degree above 68°F, your heating costs go up approximately 3 to 5 percent.

Switch your incandescent bulbs for LED or CFL bulbs, which last longer and use less energy. The Environmental Protection Agency states that CFLs use approximately 70 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), LEDs last longer, are more durable, and use at least 75 percent less energy.

If you lit your holiday tree with LED C-9 lights instead of incandescent C-9 lights, the savings get bigger. The DoE estimates it costs just 27 cents to light a 6-foot tree 12 hours a day over a 40-day period using LEDs, and 10 dollars to light the same tree the same amount of time using incandescent lights. That’s almost 40 times more expensive!

Take a peek under your door. See daylight seeping through? Even if it’s just a sliver, a tiny crack can make your heater or air conditioner work harder to keep your home comfortable. That’s why we encourage our customers to find and seal air leaks around their windows and doors in our winter bill tips. If you do the same, you should see a drop in your energy bill.

Get rid of the extra freezer or fridge you don’t need, or replace it if it’s more than 15 years old. A new refrigerator with the Energy Star® label can be as much as 40 percent more energy efficient than older models. If you want to know exactly how much you’ll save, plug in your fridge or freezer details into Energy Star’s refrigerator retirement savings calculator.

Do multiple loads of laundry in one session. To save energy during this regular chore, use cold water for the wash and rinse cycles, and dry two or more loads in a row to take advantage of heat build-up from the previous cycle. After a load is dry, clean the lint tray to improve air circulation and prevent fire hazards — a simple yet important tip from the Department of Energy. If it’s a warm day, consider cutting appliance costs altogether by air-drying a load on a rack outside.

Avoid using the dishwasher heat-drying option. Similar to the laundry tips above, you can shave your electricity bill by using the air-drying option on your dishwasher.

Keep your ductwork properly insulated and sealed to prevent air loss. Doing so can reduce heating and cooling costs by 40 percent, and also decrease humidity and dust in your home — a win-win-win situation.

Stay cool when it comes to air conditioning. It may seem like a while from now, but before we know it, the Texas heat will be here, and air conditioners will blast away. Resist the urge to switch your air conditioner to the “on” position from “auto,” as this can suck heat from the attic into the ductwork, making your appliance work harder to cool your home.

Download the Reliant appto see how well you’re doing in saving energy and money. Through the app, you can check your balance, view your usage, get alerts, and manage your account — all from your mobile device. And check out Reliant’s home-energy saving and winter bill tips for more options to save money.

Get a home energy snapshot. Call us or go online to request a free Home Energy Checkup or an in-home consultation.* If you want someone you can trust to visit to your home, assess your unique situation, and give you tips on how to improve your home’s energy efficiency, this is the perfect way to have energy experts help you find potential energy savings.

So there you have it: Even if you didn’t resolve to save money, you wouldn’t say no to a little extra cash in your bank account at the end of every month, right? Good luck to everyone who made New Year’s resolutions this year, and if you have any energy- and money-saving tips we didn’t cover, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.


* The Home Energy Snapshot is available to all Reliant residential customers living in single-family homes that have been powered by Reliant for at least 12 concurrent months. An in-home consultation is available to Reliant residential customers in single-family homes in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex areas. PUCT Certificate #10007

Photo by Brandon Wade/Associated Press

One last chance to decide, Dallas: Will you be naughty or nice this year?

Reliant Lights the Holidays

With the magic of the holidays comes a certain feeling of nervousness. Do you remember anxious moments as a child wondering whether you were on Santa’s “naughty or nice” list? Did you worry that by the time you got to December, there was very little you could do to change the outcome?

The good news is, now that you’re grown, you can make that choice for yourself. And, as a card-carrying adult, you can choose to engage with the holidays any way you wish. (No more being forced to attend your younger sibling’s elementary school play!)

So whether you decide to show the spirit of the season online or by heading to the Dallas Arts District to marvel at our holiday LED-lights display, Reliant is there for you.

Are you naughty or nice?
Turns out it’s not just the big guy at the North Pole who knows these things. Through December we’ve brought back our Naughty or Nice* campaign.

Feeling naughty? Choose this Reliant Secure Advantage® 12 plan and receive a $200 Reliant Visa® prepaid card. Feeling nice? Choose this Reliant Secure Advantage® 12 plan and you’ll receive a $100 Reliant Visa® prepaid card and have a $100 donation made to the Salvation Army. We promise not to tell which one you choose!

Earlier this year, Reliant presented the Salvation Army with a check for $50,600, made possible in part through Reliant customers picking the “nice” option during last year’s holiday season.

Holiday yarns worth spinning
Speaking of the Salvation Army, another way we support this organization is through Knit the Season. Upon visiting our holiday microsite, you’re greeted by familiar faces sitting in rocking chairs with their knitting needles: Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten, pro footballer J.J. Watt, and pro basketballer Patrick Beverley. These three virtual athletes have set aside their gear to encourage everyone to create the ugliest holiday sweater online.

For every sweater virtually knitted and shared on social media, Reliant will donate $1 to the Salvation Army – up to $10,000 – and also add the hashtag #ReliantHoliday to each social post to help spread the holiday cheer.

Reliant Lights Your Holidays
If you haven’t had time to think about the holidays yet, a quick way to get into the spirit of the season is to head to AT&T Performing Arts Center in the Dallas Arts District. There you’ll see a dazzling display of more than half a million lights, illuminating a festive scene available for viewing every night until January 2016.

Although that’s a lot of lights to turn on all at once, there’s no need to worry: Every light used in our display is a LED bulb that consumes around 90 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. This technology has improved significantly over the years as its popularity has grown. As a result, LEDs now emit the same warm glow as incandescent lights and have become less expensive. Couple these benefits with their energy savings, and it’s easy to see why LEDs are better than traditional bulbs.

So although we can’t promise relief from holiday music overload or too much turkey, we’ve made it easy to get in the spirit of the season however you wish. To find out what else we’re up to through the end of the year, we encourage you to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

*Valid only for new residential customers signing up for this Reliant Secure Advantage® 12 plan with Reliant Visa® prepaid card. For complete details, visit reliant.com/naughtyornice. Reliant Energy Retail Holdings, LLC. PUCT #10007

Photo courtesy of Reliant

Spend or splurge? Make the right energy choices and do both.

Energy Savings Checklist

A new swimsuit and pair of sunglasses. A summer trip. Moving into a new place. These are all summertime staples, where money seems to evaporate as fast as water on the pavement.

Even with summer almost over, as we know in Texas the mercury can climb well into October, so it’s never too late to learn how to manage your energy use and also make sustainable choices. Through simple changes, you’ll reduce your electricity usage and feel (ahem) cool, not guilty, every time you make a splurge.

To help folks make more informed energy choices, here are the top tips from Reliant to beat the heat and manage energy usage:

  • Control your electricity budget: Seasonal spikes in hot or cold weather can have a significant effect on your power bill’s bottom line. With the Reliant Predictable 12 plan*, your electricity costs will be the same amount every month, making it easier to budget for summer fun. This is the perfect plan for anyone who dislikes energy bill surprises.
  • Get “smart” about the great indoors: Install a smart thermostat to save up to an estimated 10 percent annually on cooling and heating costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Turn it up while you’re out: Set your thermostat four degrees higher when you’re away for more than four hours to help reduce electricity usage.
  • Check it all out: Your home has many unique factors that can affect energy efficiency, making it hard to know you’re wasting energy. Reliant offers eligible Dallas-Fort Worth customers a Home Energy Checkup to evaluate your home’s annual electricity usage and provide tips on how to improve energy efficiency. Best part? It’s a free service for Reliant customers.**
  • Get out of hot water: Maybe you take colder showers to avoid additional summer heat, but you can also save money if you lower your water heater temperature settings. Try adjusting it to about 120 degrees from the common 140 degrees, and it will still feel plenty hot.
  • Spin to lower bills: Set your ceiling fan to rotate counterclockwise in the summer. This helps distribute air so you feel cooler without lowering the thermostat. And remember to turn off the fan when the room is unoccupied.
  • Freshen those filters: Improve your air conditioner efficiency by checking air filters at least once a month during periods of heavy use. The Reliant Filters Made Easy® program offers Reliant customers home delivery of high-quality air filters at reduced costs, another great energy efficiency opportunity. Even better, the periodic deliveries mean you won’t have to remember to change the filters.

Those are just a few ideas to get you thinking about how to manage your power usage and stay cool through the long summer heat. To learn more about how to conserve energy and manage your electricity bills, please visit the Reliant website.


Bill Clayton is vice president of Customer Care Operations for Reliant.

*The Reliant Predictable 12 plan is valid for Reliant residential customers. Eligibility restrictions apply, to learn more please visit reliant.com/predictable. PUCT #10007

**The Home Energy Checkup is valid only for Reliant residential single-family customers within the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. Some features may not be available to all customers. Limit one in-home checkup annually. Restrictions may apply. Visit reliant.com/checkup. PUCT #10007

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 best new happy hours

Where to Drink

Maybe because it's fall or maybe because we're just lucky, but it's an especially rich time right now for happy hour offerings, with five spots that have either just debuted new happy hours (or are about to debut). There's a chef take at a restaurant-bar on Greenville Avenue; a fun music bar in Bishop Arts; a chance to sneak into a upscale steakhouse in a Dallas high-rise; and a restaurant-bar overlooking a tranquil golf course in Frisco.

Here's five hot new happy hours for our latest installment of Where to Drink:

Quarter Acre
Greenville Avenue restaurant has a new “Garden Hour” happy hour program Tuesday-Friday from 5-6:30 pm on the patio or at the bar, featuring snacks, three for $11, such as the Watermelon Bite, Crispy Pork Belly with avocado whip and sour lime, Half Shell Oyster with kiwi bubbles and rosé mignonette, and Mushroom Croquette with goat cheese. Select cocktails are $8 including the Front Deck Spritz with Aperol, passionfruit, and bubbles; and Bumble Bee’s Knees with Ford’s Gin, honey, and lemon. Three bottles of wine are $40: Pierre Sparr “Brut” Cremant d’Alsace, Mahua Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2022, or Black Cottage Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2021.

Revelers Hall
New Orleans-style bar in Bishop Arts has a new summer happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-7 pm, with good deals: half-price food, $6 wines, $5 well drinks, and $4 beers. They also have live music daily, featuring a variety of genres including jazz, bebop, Cumbia, and Latin jazz. Plus indoor and outdoor seating, and now is the time of year for that.

Ryder Cup Grille
Restaurant-bar at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort — one of 13 restaurants and bars at the resort — has a new happy hour with postcard-worthy views overlooking the Fields Ranch golf courses. It's an early one, running Monday-Friday from 2-5 pm and includes some domestic beers for $6, house wines for $10, and Ranch Water for $13. Food specials include Parmesan fries ($7), a guacamole and salsa flight ($9), chicken tenders with Buffalo sauce, Deep Ellum blue cheese dressing, and ranch ($11), nachos with brisket and refried beans ($12), and Cobb salad ($12).

SER Steak & Spirits
Steakhouse on the 27th floor of the Hilton Anatole has a Social Hour Tuesday-Thursday from 5-6:30 pm with $10 cocktails, $10 wines by the glass. A new bar menu features oysters, beef tartare, and gochujang chicken, priced from $9 to $23. They also have two new cocktails: Fall Berry Bush with tequila, Chambord, lime, rosemary, and sage; and a boozy lemonade with vodka, lavender, dill, lemon juice, and soda water.

Whiskey Cake
A new $7 Social Hour begins September 26, and runs Monday-Friday 3-6 pm with cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Margarita, Daiquiri, and a CYOM (create your own martini) with vodka or gin, clean or dirty, wet or dry, shaken or stirred, with a twist of lemon or olives, all for $7. House wines are also $7 and beers are $5. A menu of bar bites includes Wagyu corn dogs, BBQ spiced pork rinds, and blue cheese kettle chips.

Famous doner kebab restaurant makes Dallas debut with location in Frisco

Kebab News

A big name in doner kebabs is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth: German Doner Kebab, famous for pioneering gourmet doner kebabs in the UK and worldwide, will open its first location in Frisco, at 12025 E. University Dr. #100.

According to a release, it'll open on September 25, with seating for 77, making it the brand’s largest North American restaurant in terms of capacity.

Doner kebabs are a street food, centered on meat cooked on a rotating vertical spit. The name comes from two Turkish words: 'Doner' meaning rotate, and 'Kebap' meaning grilled meat. It's similar to a gyro, but döner meat is made from lamb or pork, while gyros are lamb or chicken.

German Doner Kebab, abbreviated GDK, is known for its distinctive waffle bread, in which the pita-like bread is imprinted with a waffle pattern. The company opened its first restaurant in Berlin in 1989 and is headquartered in Scotland. There are now 100-plus locations across UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

They made their U.S. debut in 2021 and have locations in New Jersey, Astoria, Queens, New York, and Sugar Land, Texas, outside Houston, which opened in 2022.

Their menu features doner kebabs made with toasted waffle bread, halal meat, vegetables, and signature sauces. GDK locations have an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared to order.

In addition to the waffle bread, you can get the doner as a wrap, a panini, or in quesadilla form. Other items include a burger topped with Doritos and cheese sauce - like chips & salsa on top of doner meat, but all inside a bun; a black bean veggie burger; spring rolls; jalapeno poppers; and fries in a quartet of options including cheese fries, flaming fries, and curry fries.

“Many Americans are familiar with gyro, shawarma, and shish kebabs, however our ‘doner kebabs’ will be a new experience in both taste and format to most," says GDK North America managing director Nigel Belton in a statement.

Secret find market in North Dallas sells exclusive Italian foodstuffs

Shopping News

There's a food market in North Dallas that's like a secret find for shoppers seeking Italian victuals.

Called Olio & Olive, it's an online gourmet store specializing in high-end Italian gastronomic products — with a retail outlet located off the beaten path at 14217 Proton Rd. It's a minimalist space, open Wednesday-Friday from 1-6 pm, featuring shelves stocked with olive oil, crackers, tomatoes, pesto, antipasti, sauces, truffle products, pasta, cheese, vinegar, olives, candy, and chocolates.

The store is a unique addition to Dallas' Italian market scene, alongside institutions Jimmy's Food Store in East Dallas and Eataly at NorthPark Center.

"We call it a showroom,” says Marco Filippi, who founded Olio & Olive in 2004 with his wife Gaia Guidi Filippi. “It is not a typical grocery store or a shopping center, but more boutique."

Olio & Olive started out as a warehouse based in California, fulfilling mail orders and servicing L.A. restaurants seeking cured meats, Italian cheeses, and other rare specialty goods. The Filippis relocated from Los Angeles to Dallas in 2014.

"We moved here for the business and to live, and I am very glad we did it," Marco says. "The cost of living there was very high and we saw a growing market in Dallas."

Marco is a native of Italy who's able to leverage his connections to European suppliers, expanding his pursuit of unique offerings by attending trade shows in Italy. Gaia, who recently founded Dallas-based interior design company Gaia G Interiors, grew up in the business: Her Italian-American family owns Guidi Marcello Ltd., a longtime import, wholesale, and Italian market in Los Angeles.

The store's allure lies in its deep bench of hard-to-find treasures: Castelvetrano olives, Caciocavallo Irpino cheese, chestnut spread, and chocolates by Caffarel.

"We get unusual requests, like someone who wanted to buy raw olives," Marco says. "Unless you have an olive tree in your backyard, you aren’t going to be able to acquire something like that."

About half of Olio & Olive’s business comes from wholesale and service to restaurants, which range from mom and pops in Venice, California to Las Vegas resorts. The other half of its commerce is online and retail, which brings one back to the on-the-ground chase for specialty cravings.

Among the top sellers on the retail side is their private-label line of fresh frozen ravioli, with fillings such as butternut squash, braised short rib, five-cheese, and mushroom.

The benefit of having a retail outlet is that customers might come in for one thing and learn about another.

“They see the products on the website and appreciate when they come here and see something unique,” he says.