After 2020 and all the challenges of the pandemic, this year felt like a return to normal in many ways. Here at Sense many of us were able to get back in the office and see each other again. We are finding a good mix of in-person and remote work—and all spending a lot of time on Zoom and Slack!
Our technical work moved ahead rapidly this year on a few different fronts. The data science team continues to make progress on device detection with some improvements already deployed and much more in the works. One area of development that I’m very excited about is how to increase the collaboration between the app and our users. We know the number one request from our users is “let me train Sense!” While there are technical reasons why we aren’t able to support exactly this, we are working on ways in which users can interact with Sense to improve the overall understanding of devices and activity in the home. We think this will have a big impact and are hard at work on it in both our data science team and our product team. Expect to hear more about this in the coming year.
We are also continuing to work on application functionality beyond just device detection— especially for the initial time period when Sense is still learning about the home. For example, you can learn more about the electricity from the grid with features like Power Quality, which shows fluctuations in your home’s power that could be a problem. We’ve had feedback from customers who’ve corrected serious issues after seeing their power quality fluctuate.
We know that many of our customers share our deep concern about climate change. Everything you do to reduce your home’s energy footprint with insights from the Sense app helps to slow carbon emissions. For instance, in most homes, devices that stay on continuously account for 23% of the utility bill. To help you track down those devices, we added Always On Device Estimates, with a list of hundreds of consumer electronics and their energy usage. If you use the estimates checklist, you may discover some devices to turn off. Collectively, we can make a big difference by getting rid of our energy vampires.
A sweeping change that’s taking place in home electricity is the shift to cleaner energy sources from the grid. Because of the increasing reliance on solar and wind, the carbon emissions to generate the power for your home can vary depending on the time of day. We added the Carbon Intensity feature to tell you when energy from the grid is cleanest (or not) so you can time your activities to reduce your carbon footprint. Eventually we believe that a feature like Carbon Intensity will be used with integrations and automation so you’ll be able to tell Sense to charge your EV or turn on your dishwasher when carbon emissions will be lowest.
This past summer there were record heat waves in the West and South. Many utilities are trying to control energy demand during those peak events with Time of Use billing. We expect that this is a trend that will continue, so we added support for Time of Use billing in the Sense app. With this new feature, the Sense app alerts you when an On-peak rate begins and tells you when it will end. It helps you plan activities like running a dishwasher, charging an electric vehicle or washing a load of laundry when off-peak pricing is lower. You’ll also help prevent rolling blackouts by being aware of peaks and adjusting your consumption.
Coming soon will be a feature called Top Movers and Peak Device Alerts. It gives you more details about the devices that are contributing the most to your energy usage so you’ll know where to focus your energy saving efforts. When we founded the company back in 2013, our mission was to use technology to reduce global carbon emissions by making homes smart and efficient. Sense customers are playing a leading role in a shift to the electrification of homes and toward clean energy both from rooftop solar and the utility grid.
As the year comes to a close, we’re grateful to all our customers who have joined us in our journey toward a cleaner, more resilient future. Wishing you good holidays and a Happy New Year!
Mike Phillips is the CEO of Sense.