Sense helped with faulty Solar Water Heater System

Device: Water Heater
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Model:
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I discovered that my solar water heater system was not working properly. I noticed that during the middle of a summer day, the heat exchanger was not circulating water. A bit of YouTube searching pointer to a possible temperature sensor problem and sure enough, the wiring at the roof was broken. After fixing it, the system started working.

Sense helped me utilize my solar energy

Device: AC
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Model:
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During the summer, we know the majority of our energy costs are from cooling our home. Temperatures don’t get below 100 until after dark some days. We have solar panels, and I realized through the Sense app that I need to be cooling my house more before dark, while the sun is out!

Sense Is Helping Us Become Net Zero!

Device: Other Device
Make: Solar Panels
Model:
Estimated Savings:

We installed solar panels just before the end of last year (2018) and installed a new Sense Monitor at the same time. We have 15 rooftop panels on our old DC rowhouse, a 4.875 kW array in total. Our goal is to see if we can be a net zero energy home by the end of 2019.

Our electric bill while it varies from month to month can be as much as $1,000 per year especially after AC use during the hot DC summers. As a sustainability guru and Architect, when I heard that Sense was a smart home energy monitor capable of detecting appliances and other home devices, I was all in and ready to get one installed.

Sense got me to kick out my renter; Saved my life

Device: Oven
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Model:
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My roommate (he / his) had been renting a room off me for about a year. He moved in with me 3 days after I bought my house, so I’ve never actually seen what a “normal” electric bill should look like.

After I received a $450 electric bill in the mail I bought Sense. I installed it myself, and Sense went right to work!

After about a week I realized that my roommate had sometimes been getting high, then in a case of the munchies, preheating the oven, and then passing out. Subsequently leaving the oven on and falling asleep overnight (GASP 😶) I was very….. Displeased with this.

So he was given one last chance, which he broke the next night, when he turned the stove, on put his food on, and went upstairs to his room to play Xbox, I noticed it when the smoke alarms went off, he didn’t. (there was a smoke alarm, going off, IN HIS ROOM).

Being quite upset 😡 I threw his food out the window and shut the stove off. He came down half an hour later (after his game) and was confused that the food he had left burning on the stove was missing. I asked him why he left the stove on unsupervised, and his response to this day astonishes me! He said “cooking isn’t something that needs supervision.” (In case you didn’t know, cooking **IS** something that needs supervision)

His lease was then terminated.

So by leaving the 8,000 Watt oven on overnight it would effectively double my power bill for the week. Doing so 5 times in a week would be the same as 1 month of regular usage!

His rent sure wasn’t covering an extra $400 per month.

So not only has Sense saved $4,800 per year. It has also helped to remove a dangerous Fire Hazard (renter) from probably burning down my house as I lay sleeping in it. I have no problem saying, Sense has literally saved my life.

“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!

Fridges gone wild!

Device: Fridge
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I have 3 refrigerators in my house. One is a kitchen sized fridge/freezer and the other two are smaller wine-cooler style fridges. It was surprising to compare the energy usage of these fridges. The kitchen fridge is an Energy Star rated unit and Sense showed that it is continually cycling on and off. The others are less efficient. Sense made me think about these fridges. Are they operating efficiently? Are they energy hogs? Do I even need them all? I put a temperature probe in each fridge and was shocked to discover that the temperatures were all over the map. The fridge part of one of the smaller units was at 32F (freezing!), and the kitchen one was way too warm (42F). Over a period of a few days I was able to set the temperatures correctly to a recommended 37F. While it’s not easy to estimate how much energy this will save, I now know that these fridges are at the correct temperature. Sense made me think about how efficient everything in my house is. I’d never questioned the temperature of my fridges before.

Sense let me know I was leaving the hose on.

Device: Water Pump
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Model:
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Day 4 of Sense. It detected the Well Pump yesterday. Sense showed around 12 noon the pump was coming on every 30 or so minutes but I wasn’t using water, turns out I was out watering and left the hose on, there are small leaks in the nozzle and at the house connection which is the cause. Turned that hose off!

True cost of that space heater.

Device: Space Heater
Make: Walmart
Model: DQ1702
Estimated Savings:

Dad is 88 and over the winter I got him a small space heater that he can run during the day when I’m at work if he gets cold. I was under the impression he used that heater for no more than an hour or so each day. What I’ve learned is that heater is on almost constantly when I’m away from the house. That might be only a little over a dollar each day in electricity but it adds another $35-$40 to the monthly electric bill. He has an electric blanket in his bedroom that he uses at night which requires far less electricity. I’ve decided to get him another small electric blanket that he can put around him when he needs additional heat in the Family Room.

Sense helps optimize water heater settings

Device: Water Heater
Make: A. O. Smith
Model:
Estimated Savings:

We have your normal electric tank water heater but also have a recirculation system it’s connected to. We knew it did cost us extra money each month to have instant hot water by having a pump run and the extra load of keeping the water in the pipes the same temperature of the tank. After testing different run times for the temperature controlled pump, we were able to determine the perfect “happy medium” to keep the convenience of instant hot water and balance the cost to where we were comfortable. Without Sense I would have left it setup in the original configuration that was making our water heater makeup almost 20% of our electric bill. Now that is down to 13%. We are probably saving much more because now the family is “aware” of the cost of hot water in general and they don’t leave water running standing at the sink and I’ve noticed that showers have gotten shorter for all four of us.

Vacation home electric way too high for years.

Device: Other Heater
Make:
Model:
Estimated Savings:

For years, the electric bill (from our electric baseboard heaters) in our vacation home was way too high, even when the house was unoccupied. There were obviously things that I didn’t understand, but nobody could offer any advice. Even though Sense could be better at detecting devices, I was able to monitor the overall usage, flip breakers, do some experiments, and determine that those unnecessary heating zones were making up a huge portion of my bill. It took a little bit of effort, but using Sense along with smart plugs, a Wi-Fi thermostat, Wi-Fi thermometers, and some oil-filled radiant heaters allowed me to cut my winter electric bill in half!