Frequently Asked Questions

What does it cost to use the service?

The notification service is free. If you make payments, depending on the utility, we may charge a $2/mo convenience fee for making the first payment of the month.

How do I share my utility data?

We connect through your electric utility's smart grid data connection. We'll walk you through the process when you sign-up.

Do you sell electricity or natural gas at a cheaper rate?

We don’t sell electricity or natural gas, and we have no plans to. We connect you to your existing utility. Nothing changes about how you buy electricity or natural gas.

If I signup, am I in a pre-pay program?

No. Pre-pay is a utility program, usually for electric utilities, where you pay for energy BEFORE you use it, and when your balance is zero, your service is shut off. Typically utilities follow a post-pay system, where you use the electricity and then pay for it. We offer Flexible Payments, which is somewhere in between. You CAN pay early if that helps you manage your budget, but you don’t have to and are still protected by a post-pay system. Lumin just makes it easier to pay more frequently, but it is not required to use the service.

What is a digital wallet?

A digital wallet, also known as mobile payments, is an app on a mobile phone or computer that allows a customer to transact between their payment method and a merchant. Common digital wallets are PayPal, Venmo, Square Cash, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Zelle, or from your bank mobile application. Some digital wallets, like PayPal Cash, can transact in cash at participating vendors for a fee. We suggest you use a peer to peer payment to transact cash, as that is generally free.

Do I need to be a U.S. Citizen with a social security number to use Lumin, or a digital wallet?

No. We will ask for a date of birth to check your eligibilty for subsidies. To use some digital wallet products, such as pre-paid debit cards or cash transactions, the vendor will ask you to provide identification. These may include any of the following: social security number, tax id number, visa number, foreign passport number, voter registration number, foreign driver's license, or matricula consular information.

What is a peer to peer payment?

A peer to peer payment is a free transaction between one customer of a digital wallet and another customer of the same digital wallet. For example, a PayPal user can send money to another PayPal user for free from online or in the PayPal phone app. You can use this process to convert cash to digital currency by giving a trusted friend or family member cash and having them send you the same amount as a peer to peer payment. This is a great way to avoid paying fees for converting cash to a digital payment. Lumin cannot provide this service for you, but we think it is the best way to avoid fees.

Does my mobile wallet charge a fee?

This depends on how you pay. We cover transaction fees from the mobile wallet that involve direct payments from the mobile wallet or payments connected to a bank. There may be separate fees for using a debit, credit, or cash payments according to a vendor's fee schedule (here is PayPal's). The easiest way to avoid fees is to get money into your digital wallet through a peer to peer payment, or from a bank ACH transfer.

What do you do with my utility, payment, and personal information?

You can check our Privacy Policy for a more complete explanation. The short answer is we don’t sell or share user information and keep as little of it as necessary to provide the service.

Do other Lumin members or charities know who I am if I’m using the Giving Back feature?

No. No user identifiable information is shared, but we'll let them know that they have helped a real person. Lumin makes the transaction on your behalf, debiting the donor and crediting the utility for the donee. This may involve a transaction fee depending on the utility (e.g., a $5 donation would be slightly less than $5). You’ll have a record of the amount in your mobile payment, which will include the merchant the payment is made to (i.e, the utility or the charity). You will choose the donation amount, but the donation is anonymous.

Where do I get notifications?

Notifications are delivered via SMS (text) through your phone's default messaging application. For some applications, such as Facebook Messenger, we can provide a better experience and we recommend that you use one of these applications if you have a smart phone. We will continue to connect to over-the-air (OTA) messaging applications to make your experience better. If you use one and think it has great features, feel free to let us know.

Do Lumin notifications cost anything?

Though you don’t likely get charged for texts, carrier rates and terms will apply for texts and data. Lumin does not cover these charges.

Can I send you notifications?

Of course. Please feel free to ask questions, give us feature requests, or pass on information and we'll get back to you in 24-48 hours. However, please follow security best practices and never send us sensitive information, such as your social security number, over text. We have a secure web application you can access after logging on to give us this information. You can also email us at

About Lumin

Lumin was created in 2014 through a partnership of the Delta Institute, IDEO, ISEIF, Faith in Place, and Atomic Object as a project, DeltaLumin, to educate low and moderate income consumers about the Illinois smart grid. The project quickly grew into the product we call Lumin. We are looking forward to a launch in 2019 in Illinois and beyond.

35 East Wacker Drive
Suite 1200
Chicago, Illinois 60601
(312) 651-4365

©2018 Delta Institute. All Rights Reserved.

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