The case of the Ridiculous Power Bill

I moved into a house built in 1978, and I have been working to improve the efficiency since I purchased it. This winter though I was in for a real shock when I saw a $350 power bill. For one person. My previous, much newer house my average bill was around $90 with natural gas costs of around $30 This house is all electric, (now with solar panels!) so I was determined to find out where all that electricity was going. Before Sense I really didn’t know if the house wasn’t insulated right, or was my Heat Pump equipment faulty. Given the equipment age I kind of had my suspicions, but when you are talking about HVAC gear or replacing windows, it’s a huge investment to make the wrong call, and I needed to know if I should replace the HVAC unit, or dump that money into new windows. The $400 Sense device, coupled with an inexpensive infrared camera helped definitively solve that mystery. It turns out my 41 year old heater core and 20 year old heat pump were eating away at power like a competitive pie eater during a pie shortage. The windows were actually relatively intact, though I do need a pair of more efficient doors at some point. Prior to installing the Sense I was actually leaning towards doing the windows, which wouldn’t have fixed the issue and would have probably meant it would be a few years of $300 bills before I could fix it. With my new state of the art system I have already seen a roughly $200 per month reduction during the coldest winter months.

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By looking at the overall usage and identified devices, I was able to see that my heat strips were turning on even during relatively warm periods and using much more electricity than I had ever thought would be the case. By being able to see the system running at various times during the day I was able to determine that the highest periods of electrical usage didn't necessarily correspond with the loudest noises coming from the Heat pump, and that my idea of just watching the meter during those loud periods wasn't really giving me the real story of where that energy was being used. With Sense I was able to see exactly when the spikes occurred, what made them, and then correlate that to my other temperature monitoring tables via the Nest and Ambient Weather weather stations. and realize I didn't need better insulation right now to fix the bulk of my problem, I needed a better heat source.

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