Sense Blog

Five Ways to Reduce Your Energy Bills This Fall

Learn how Sense can be used alongside a typical energy audit to save you money.

October 7 is Energy Efficiency Day -- and what better way to celebrate than with a Sense-inspired home energy audit! Fall is the traditional time for a home energy audit, as the days get shorter and cooler.  

A professional home energy audit can assess how well your home holds in the warmth generated by your HVAC, furnace or electric heating. With tools like blower doors, combustion analyzers, and infrared cameras, your energy auditor will take measurements and make calculated suggestions based on their readings. They’ll also ask about your daily habits in the home. Making your home tighter will lead to significant winter energy savings.

Aside from heating and cooling, there are plenty of ways to make the rest of your electricity usage more frugal, too. The average electric utility bill is more than $1400, and we know from Sense data that it can be substantially reduced by identifying waste and eliminating it. Start by using Sense to audit your home’s electrical usage. Are there opportunities to cut back usage for your whole home or individual devices? Now is a good time to investigate your Always On usage, and check out the Trends and Devices tabs for detailed data on your home. Most likely you will discover many ways to conserve, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Make your lighting more efficient 

With longer nights ahead, now is a good time to swap out any remaining incandescents or fluorescents in your home and replace them with LEDs (and be sure to check out our Philips Hue Integration for even deeper insights into your lighting efficiency. Don’t forget to look up at the ceiling and outside. Those out-of-the-way lights can get overlooked. Replace them with more energy efficient bulbs too.

2. Look for hidden heating costs now

When you switch over from cooling to heating in the fall, you can handle some routine maintenance yourself but you’re likely to need help from a professional in an annual maintenance visit that can pay off in more efficient heating all winter. A thorough service could include a long list of items, such as:

• Checking your thermostats for proper operation
• Changing air filters in HVAC systems
• Covering the AC condenser to protect it
• Cleaning the heat exchanger
• Testing, lubricating and cleaning the blower motor, and making sure the blower access door is tight
• Inspecting the vent system and chimney, as well as analyzing the combustion gases
• Making sure fresh air intake is not blocked
• Replacing the filter and nozzle on oil furnaces
• Checking wiring for damage or corrosion
• Checking burners for proper ignition and flame levels
• Making sure the drainage system is operating properly

Space heaters are an expensive approach to keeping your home warm. Find the safest and most energy-efficient models, and put heaters on timers so they’re not running continuously after you’ve left the room or the house. Smart plugs like the Belkin Wemo Mini or the TP-Link Kasa are a simple, inexpensive option to control the heater directly from the Sense app or via voice control with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

3. Cut down your Always On load

This is also a good time to take a deep dive into your Always On load and get rid of your energy vampires. Follow this guide to see how low you can go. Sound bars, cable boxes, game consoles, and computers are just a few of the devices that can waste energy in idle mode. If you’ll be spending more time inside this fall, streaming shows or playing games online, invest in smart power strips that turn everything off—entirely—when you walk away. And look around the house for anything that’s plugged in but not used, like an old TV or computer in a spare bedroom that’s trickling electricity all the time. You may be surprised at how many vampires are lurking in your house!

Sense has analyzed Always On data across thousands of homes and found that it accounts for 23% of the average home’s energy bill. If you cut your Always On in half, you’ll have $150 to put toward a holiday present for someone you love.

4. Maintain your appliances

Take the time to vacuum the summer’s dust from your refrigerator’s coils to improve efficiency. Consider whether it’s time to get rid of older appliances and replace them with new Energy Star-rated appliances that use less electricity. Make sure your washer and dryer are operating efficiently.

5. Dig into the data

Sense has data export functionality in the Web App. If you’re more technically inclined, this can be a great resource for even deeper analysis of your Sense data. The possibilities here are nearly endless, with a little processing effort on your part. Wrangle that data into calculating exact ROIs from improvements suggested in your energy audit, itemize your greatest energy hogs and analyze the cost-benefit of replacement, calculate long-term losses from your always-on devices — the list goes on!

Be sure to check out the discussions in the Sense Community. We’ve been impressed by the advice, smart home integrations and ingenious hacks our community members have shared there.

With a little bit of effort now, your fall energy tune-up will save you money and conserve energy during the winter months ahead.