What Sense Home Electricity Data Says About Our Lives in 2021

See the full report here.

Since the Covid pandemic began in early 2020, we’ve been analyzing Sense home data to see what it can tell us about peoples’ lives. This year, we compared anonymized data in 2019, 2020 and 2021 across 10,000 homes to look for patterns, and we found some interesting ones.

We’re dining out more
This year saw widespread vaccinations and easing of Covid restrictions. People got back to normal activities again. So if you dined out more this year, you’re not alone. According to our analysis, average kitchen

Sense home energy data suggests that people dined out more in 2021.

usage increased dramatically (50.4%) between 2019 and 2020 as many people stayed home. But then it dropped by nearly 28% in 2021, suggesting that more people are eating out.

And it looks like weekend date nights are back because kitchen appliances are getting the least use on Friday and Saturday while the most popular times in the kitchen are Sunday and Monday.

Higher electricity bills
The good news is that most people’s electricity usage didn’t increase in 2021 compared to 2020. The bad news is that it also didn’t decline back to pre-Covid levels. We estimate that the average household paid $55 more in 2020 and again in 2021 than in 2019.

A lot of that increase was driven by higher electricity usage during the day with more people staying home, but this effect was strongly regional. The biggest increases in daytime energy usage from 2019 to 2021 took place in the Pacific (17.8%), New England (17.5%) and mid-Atlantic (16.4%) regions. The smallest increases took place in the South (4%) and Southwest (8.7%).

Extreme weather was costly
Our data analysis shows that extreme weather events can be trouble for household budgets. During the unusual Texas ice storm in February 2021, homes that didn’t lose power saw a 76.9% increase in average daily usage as compared

with the rest of the winter, with a peak increase of 144.9% on February 16th. The spike translated into a 32.5% increase in average daily usage in February 2021 compared to February 2020. Since many Texas utilities had variable rate pricing, some residents were hit with a double whammy of increasing rates, too.

Extreme weather that lingers can be another budget buster. The heat dome that enveloped the Northwest from June to August 2021 led to a 14.5% increase in average daily electricity consumption compared to the same three months in 2020. The sweltering heat translated into a $50 bump in electricity bills in Oregon and Washington, on average.

To learn more, check out the Sense data visualizations here.