AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Verizon Foundation has teamed up with consumer-energy research organization Pecan Street Inc., to launch a new program that will provide low-income communities with energy management solutions that empower consumers to make smarter choices about their energy use and save money. Announced at SXSW Eco, the new program will conduct a unique home-energy research trial, called the Smart Solutions for Affordable Housing program. Funded through a cash grant from the Verizon Foundation, the program will use Verizon Wireless' network and 4G LTE routers, which will serve as the backbone for the devices the foundation is donating: tablets, eGauge circuit-level monitoring systems, Nest smart thermostats and a new mobile application for monitoring home energy use. The energy management solution will be donated to 140 low-income volunteer households in Austin, with the assistance of Foundation Communities and Wildflower Terrace, which provide affordable housing opportunities to low-income communities. "Through these strategic efforts and philanthropy, the Verizon Foundation is deploying our technologies in underserved communities to help households make better energy decisions that help them save money," said Michelle Miller, Central Texas region president for Verizon Wireless. "Using Verizon's technology and Pecan Street's energy management tools, low-income residents will be able to view their energy consumption and receive recommendations on how to save on electricity. This will allow them to make informed decisions to lower their monthly energy bills." For many low-income households, the cost of residential energy remains unaffordable. According to data presented by the U.S. Energy Information Association in 2012, the average household spends $1,945 annually on heating, cooling, appliances, electronics and lighting. Households with the lowest 20 percent of income spent nearly 6 percent of their income on energy bills. For these families, lack of adequate energy can worsen health conditions, lead to the removal of vulnerable members from the household, or contribute to homelessness. Verizon's proven advanced technologies solutions will serve as the platform for delivering to participating customers' real-time information and guidance on their energy consumption, electric bills and the condition of the appliances and heating and cooling systems in their apartments. Such information should help participating customers cut their energy costs and procure the long-term benefits of a low-carbon economy.