Sense paid for itself in 1st month!

We live in Massachusetts so the cost per kwh is inherently much more expensive than average in USA, hence the higher savings in adopting sense. Our estimated total annual savings will be around $2,500 at current supply distribution rates and our August 2019 vs August 2018 usage. Notably 2018 was much warmer in Massachusetts than in 2019, but as per the sense analysis, seasonality couldn’t explain the delta in savings we achieved… the culprit was the water circulation pump draining the 80 gallon water heater on a continuous basis!

We had been living for one year in our newly constructed home and immediately took issue with our electric bill. Our whole street is comprised of newly built houses by the same builder and all of them were running equally high electric bills yet with no knowledge of the source. We asked for a MassSave inspection and they determined our home to be maxed out in energy efficiency (e.g. appliances, foam insulation, LEDs, etc). We had already turned down the water heater dial to 120º and our Nest HVAC was getting several green leafs, thus we were told our electric bill was the cost of living in a large house with six people and we couldn’t really do much about it.

We installed Sense to try to get a better handle of what was going on. The main culprit turned out to be the water circulation pump which has a small wattage usage but causes the water heater to continuously run. We purchased a Kasa smart plug on put the circulation pump on a timer, which proved to be immediately effective in lowering our wattage usage. However, we realized that the water heater was still running quite a bit during the day so we installed an Aquanta to control for the water heater hours of operation. The end result was a 1st month savings that paid for sense (!!!!).

Everyone tells you that the water heater is one of the main culprits but not even the experts put two and two together. Only with sense did we identify that the water circulation pump was the main problem. Since then we’ve enjoyed calculating other energy savings/costs. For instance, we installed a well which we knew would save us a ton of money in water (and pay for itself in two years as a result) but we didn’t know the cost of running the well pump. Sense didn’t quite identify the well pump yet (b/c it struggles with variable motors) but we were able to see that when the irrigation went on it correlated with a 2kwh spike in sense’s Power Meter. Other benefits have continued to pop us as I now know how long our cleaning service actually vaccums the floors b/c it is its own separate device. We also teach our kids about energy use as sense can tell when they leave their bathroom lights on. The list goes on and on. No doubt there are plenty of opportunities for improvement but it already paid for itself and their customer service is absolutely phenomenal.

Share how you used the Sense app to help. Be specific!:
Most of our troubleshooting is done using the Sense mobile app (as opposed to the web app). Even before sense identified devices we were being able to start troubleshooting by using the Trends -> Usage -> Day, and comparing/contrasting one day over the other and trying to understand what was going on at specific hours on the basis of our house operational knowledge (e.g. was the dryer on? was the washer on? did people have a shower? etc). We determined that episodic appliances (e.g. dryer, washer, shower), couldn't explain the continuous drainage at all hours. Three days into using Sense it identified the water heater and that is when we started making real progress because we could isolate the water heater as a device when using the Trends -> Usage -> Day, and we saw that it was responsible for 51.5% of our electric usage. Over the following week we determined that the water heater would be as high as 80% in a single day and it would drain energy at all hours. Given that the heater has an energy efficient rating we figured it was the water circulation pump (which admittedly we didn't even know it was there...). So we got a Kasa smart plug which integrates with Sense and we put the pump on a timer. Immediately we saw our usage drop. We then turned to Power Meter and we saw the regular stepping function of the water heater turning on and off even though the water was no longer circulating all the time and we weren't drawing hot water. The next step was to install Aquanta which helped us control the hours of operation for the water heater. The negative side effect is that sense now struggles at times to identify the water heater and thus the "other" category increased. I can live with sense not dealing well with Aquanta's effect on the water heater's energy signature because my weekly bill dropped from $110+ to less than $40 last week. BTW there was an element of habit change where we designated four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening for people to have hot showers. Aquanta allows us to run a boost which we use about twice a week for the random shower...

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