Sense Blog

Tune Up Your Home for Winter Energy Savings

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

October 2 is Energy Efficiency Day and what better way to celebrate than with a Sense-inspired energy audit! Fall is the traditional time for a home energy audit, as the days get shorter and cooler. The primary focus in typical energy audits is the HVAC system, which needs to work efficiently during the long, cold winter. With tools like blower doors, combustion analyzers, and infrared cameras, your energy auditor will take measurements and make calculated suggestions based on their readings. This can result in significant winter energy savings, which means more money in your pocket. But, based on energy data from Sense homes, we know that there are plenty of ways to make the rest of your electricity usage more frugal, too.  

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 what your Always On devices might be, 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.

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.

Halloween and Christmas decorations have become more elaborate, with yard inflatables and light displays that stretch from house to yard, so assess electrical demands before you buy and be sure to choose LED lighting when possible. Consider whether it’s time to upgrade older decorative displays that still use incandescent bulbs and could even present safety hazards. Laser light displays are also quite efficient, compared to other wide-coverage options. Use the Power Meter in the Sense app to track their performance and see how that holiday cheer is impacting your energy costs.

Look for hidden heating costs now 

Sense data shows that hot water recirculation systems designed to deliver instant hot water to the tap use far more energy than running the shower a couple extra minutes to flush cold water out of the pipes. Consider whether it’s time to upgrade to more efficient technology like tankless water heaters.

Heated towel bars are a nice luxury but be sure to buy an energy efficient model and use a timer. Keep an eye on winter appliances like heated driveways and roof de-icers, too. If you forget to turn them off, their operation can be hard to detect after snow and ice have melted away, so set alerts to remind you to check on them.

Space heaters are another 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.

This is also a good time to take a deep dive into your Always On load. Follow this guide to see how low you can go.

Maintain your appliances

Take the time to vacuum the summer’s dust from your refrigerator’s coils and ventilation ducts 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. Clean or replace A/C filters so they are in good shape when they go into service again in the spring.

Dig into the data 

Sense now 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!

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