1. Learn your energy style
Your utility bill doesn’t tell you much about your day-to-day energy style, but the Sense app can tell you almost everything, including the daily patterns that impact your monthly bill. How you take advantage of Sense’s insights may depend on your personal energy style.
Do you love smart home gadgets? We do, too, but they can sip electricity continuously. The Sense app compares your home energy usage to similar homes, and you can see how your Always On compares, too. If it’s higher than average, take steps to get it under control.
Are you the data guru in your family? The Dashboard tab in the Sense app breaks down your home’s usage in a variety of ways. Having real-time and historical home data can guide you to bigger savings.
Are you the fix-it person in your home? Check the Devices tab and drill down into individual devices to get to know their energy patterns and costs. Changes in energy patterns over time can indicate that something is about to break down. Some users have prevented costly repairs (or upgrades) with high-usage alerts in the Sense app notifying them of a potential issue before it was too late.
No matter what your energy style is, you’ll see what’s turning on in your house both right now and historically in the Sense app. You’ll know when and how often you use major appliances like dishwashers, dryers and washing machines. You’ll learn how much vampire power is wasted in your home. And you can set goals and alerts that keep your budget on track.
2. Tackle your heating and cooling costs
More than half of energy use in the home is for heating and cooling. To reduce your utility bills, you have to start with this most basic energy need. This winter, use Sense to assess your heating costs and decide when to make changes. Also, if your heating system is driving up your utility bills, Sense can help you monitor its functioning and diagnose any issues. If you’re considering whether to upgrade your heating and cooling system, be sure to take a look at this guide for home heating and cooling for the latest best practices in sizing your system.
3. Tighten your home’s envelope
If your house is constantly leaking air, your furnace or HVAC system has to work harder to keep the home warm or cool. And that means you’re spending more on electricity and other fuel. Most utilities offer free services to assess your home’s envelope and help you tighten it up with insulation, window upgrades and other energy efficiency improvements that stop air leakage. Take advantage of these programs, which are paid for by fees in your monthly bills.
4. Turn off the vampires
Devices that stay on continuously account for 23% of the average home electricity bill in the U.S. By eliminating vampire power drains in your house, you can reduce your utility bill substantially and put money back in your pocket. Consider investing in smart plugs and strips to turn off smart gadgets when they’re not in use or set automated rules through IFTTT to turn your lights off for you. The payback will be immediate.
5. Round up the hogs
At Sense, we’re fascinated by peoples’ stories about finding and eliminating all sorts of hidden energy hogs. What’s intriguing is how each house has different, hidden energy drains. Whether it’s a heating element run amok in an HVAC system or an attic fan that’s gotten tangled in an insulating blanket, Sense users have discovered and eliminated an amazingly diverse set of energy hogs in their home (see real examples here). To round up your hogs, follow our 10-step program to getting started with Sense. The first step is walking around your house with the Power Meter, turning things on and off. Don’t be surprised if you discover an energy hog.
6. Game your utility bill
If your utility has time of use rates, learn a new game about saving energy. Gather some baseline information about when you’re paying the most for electricity, and compare it to your daily usage in the Sense app. Track your appliances in the Sense app and schedule when you run the dishwasher, cook meals, wash and dry laundry and charge an electric vehicle to take advantage of lower rates. Changing your habits can make a difference. For example, EnergySage calculated that if residential customers on PG&E’s time-of-use rate were to run their dishwasher 20 times a month at 9 pm instead of at 6 pm, they could save $70 per year on electricity costs.
7. Turn smart practices into good habits
The reminder to “turn off the lights when you leave a room” is a smart way to remember that electricity costs money. Homes are filled with gadgets and appliances that turn on and off all day, using invisible electricity. If electricity were visible like water, you’d see water trickling from electrical faucets all around your house. Make smart energy habits part of your life so that you can live more responsibly and economically.