Always On costing a bundle

Device: Other Electronics
Make:
Model:
Estimated Savings:

I’ve got a Sense system that was recommended and installed by my electrician last February. It was never really meant to be a cost saving item, more of a hobby/interest item for entertainment. But I got hooked. My Always On was running at about 950W all the time and I couldn’t figure out what it was! I started chasing big users and have gotten it down now to 339W. Not only did this journey help me learn about my house (we just moved in last year), but alerted me to a mini-fridge that wasn’t sealing correctly, a wine fridge that was running way too frequently, an old A/C unit that wasn’t efficient, and then a whole slew of smaller electronics that I use sporadically, but were drawing a ton of power because I wasn’t unplugging them!
I’ve been using Sense Solar as a bit of a personal challenge and trying to make sure I lower my usage as much as possible below the production because in Massachusetts I actually get full credit for overproduction!

Sense detected sewer pump running all the time

Device: Pump
Make: Wayne
Model: Sewer Pump
Estimated Savings:

Our sewer pump in the basement only runs when the basement bathroom is being used. We went on vacation and happened to check my sense app and noticed the pump running every few mins. The toilet in the bathroom was running all the time, had a neighbor come over and shut the water off to the toilet. Last time this happened, it had run for a couple weeks and I had a 200 plus water bill.

Control board replaced

Device: Water Heater
Make: Rheem
Model: Elite 5000
Estimated Savings:

I had to replace my aging propane water heater, and fire codes had changed so could not install propane again without excessive install cost as it could not vent to the house chimney like it used to.

So I went and purchased a Rheem from local Home Depot that was “supposed” to be the most energy efficient. Install went without hitch and energy bill sent up about 40 dollars a month, not terrible.

Then was contacted by Rheem and notified the control board had to be replaced. Coordinated with electrician and they paid for the replacement. After the replacement my electric bill doubled to over 350 a month. Contacted Electric company for assistance (Eversource) and they were absolutely no help.

Lets face it, your basically blind on what is using power and how much in the house. I purchased Sense to help me identify the cause of the double power bill, and it worked great for that. I installed Sense and verified in an hour what was the major cause, the new Hot Water heater. I could see right on my phone when it kicked in, and usage would jump 6000 watts. Pretty easy to see that.

I installed a WiOn 220VAC power controlling breaker, and automated it with Amazon Alexa. Set it up so it came on 20 min before we showered in the morning, for 1 hour. Then another timer for 4PM in evening for 45 minutes. Works great and we have hot water 24 hours a day. Plus if I need it, I can just tell Alexa to run the routine “Turn on water heater for 20 minutes”, and she will power it up, and 20 minutes later shut it down. My power bill was cut by over half and went back down to under 200, normally around 190 or so.

I was paying for my neighbors energy bill!

Device: Mystery Device
Make:
Model:
Estimated Savings:

Last year I moved into a new apartment, about 1200 sq. ft. But after the first full month my electricity bill was in excess of $200! Granted it was summertime with 106 degree temps but that just seemed outrageous to me considering I would set my thermostat to 80 when I left for the day and would only lower it to 78 when I was home. Management told me it was because I was on the sunny side of the building and that the previous tenants bill was similar to mine. No matter what I did I could not lower my bill. Fast forward one year later. My last month’s bill was even more outrageous. Given how careful I had been I was convinced either something was powering on constantly or someone else was on my electric meter. After I had the Sense Meter installed I instantly saw something using massive amounts of power even when everything in my home was off (excluding appliances like the fridge). I isolated the usage down to one breaker in my box. I called management and showed them what I was seeing and they sent someone out the next day. Sure enough my upstairs neighbor was tied into my meter! For over a year I was paying for someone else’s power usage. They would constantly leave their A/C running because their bill was always so low every month. I knew something was wrong and I don’t know how else I would have been able to prove my case without Sense! Thank you!

Hot tub is out of season

Device: Hot Tub
Make:
Model:
Estimated Savings:

I didn’t know if I was better off leaving my hot tub run all year, or drain the water and refill it.

I monitor the cost to heat my hot tub. I overlap with the waste water cost averaging my city does. That determines the price of water for the year.

I found it was better to completely drain my hot tub for 4 months and fill it, rather than leave it running at a cooler temp.

Water is more expensive than my electric!

Refrigerator Issue

Device: Fridge
Make: Viking
Model:
Estimated Savings:

Last month sense sent me a notification that my Always On had increased by 48%. Around the same time we noticed that the ice cream in our freezer was not really frozen. The refrigerator is at least 15 years old so we knew it would need replacing someday. But we were able to get our meat and other food out of the freezer before it spoiled.

Sense showed that my fridge was overactive

Device: Fridge
Make: Amana
Model:
Estimated Savings:

We’re finishing up a gut renovation of our kitchen. We’re buying a new, smaller fridge for it, but we moved the old one to the basement. The fridge compressor was turning on a bunch, but it is an older fridge and we had only recently purchased the house, so I didn’t know if this was common for this older make and model. I had also noticed that the freezer had a lot of frost throughout it and the light didn’t turn on, but again, older unit and I didn’t remember if the light had worked since we bought the house. Maybe the bulb was just burnt out. I’ve only had my Sense active for a week now, but that basement fridge was one of the first devices detected. I was able to use the power graphs to see that the fridge was on for close to half the day. That I knew wasn’t right. I used this data to really inspect the fridge and discovered that although the freezer drawer would fully close, the rubber gasket wasn’t sealing the top of the unit. I started to push and pull on the gasket and on the drawer itself, and bam! it dropped slightly onto the track. When I closed the door this time, the gasket fully engaged.

Sense helped me find overactive AC unit

Device: AC
Make:
Model:
Estimated Savings:

AC was now running 24/7. Even on nights were the outside temperature was at least 10 colder than my thermostat setting. I had an HVAC company come and perform a system maintenance (clean filters, condensers, add refrigerant, etc.). The difference from July 31 (107.7 kWh) to August 1 (77.3 kWh) was dramatic.

Attic fan cooling unnecessarily

Device: Fan
Make:
Model:
Estimated Savings:

I woke up early one morning around 5 AM, and checked the Sense app. I noticed that the electrical usage was high for that time of day.
Sense showed that the attic fan was running.

Once I got into the attic, I realized that the thermostat was mounted incorrectly. As a result, the fan was running for much longer than necessary. The solution was to correctly mount the thermostat so that it would turn off the fan at the set temperature.

“Fast Start” mode is expensive!

Device: TV
Make: Hisense
Model: 50R7050E
Estimated Savings:

My Hisense TV consumes ~30W more in “fast start” mode vs. not in fast start. I had no idea the difference would be so large! The main benefit to Fast Start, besides saving a few seconds when turning it on, is being able to reliably turn the TV on via my iPhone’s Roku app… the realization that this was costing me ~$5/mo made me realize I’d be better of just using the regular remote!