Electrical Usage Audit

I have been in my home for 2 years now. It is a 1970’s appx 3500 sq ft. My average electrical bill is about $350/month. I installed my sense unit about a year and a half ago, which pointed me at turning off my hot water circ, which saved me about $100/month. I used to be at about $450/month. My water heater is a 100 Gallon Marathon Electric. All of the bulbs in my home are LED.

Has anyone ever hired anyone to come in and evaluate their electrical usage? All of the sense data is above my head at this point, and would like to see about getting some help interpreting and helping solve my what I can only assume to be some issue with my home.

Ideally, I would like to add solar to my home but because of my electrical usage, the solar companies that I have had out said that even if I put solar on my entire roof, I still wouldn’t cover my usage.

I’m sure enough of us here would be willing to help guide you in the right direction.
Without knowing your rates per KW, it’s hard to say if your usage is higher then it should be for the devices in your home.

A couple ways to get a general idea is to use the mobile app as the web version lacks a lot of extremely useful features.

Under Trends, (tap) compare, is your usage much higher than average homes in your area, state, all?

Under Trends, (tap) Labs, has Sense detected any issues?

Have many of your devices been detected by Sense?
Under Trends, (tap) usage, do you notice any one device using a higher percentage of your overall usage?

HVAC systems, heat/ac are often peoples biggest energy hogs. So that’s a great place to start. Excessively high seasonal bills? Do you notice yours running quite frequently or for unusually long lengths of time? If you have seen an unexplained increase over time this could signal something as simple as a dirty air filter or condenser coils, a sign of a larger issue with the system. Longer term issues could be a sign of air leaks, poor insulation, etc…

Pools and hot tubs are also MAJOR energy hogs. Do you have either?

Electric cooking appliances and Dehumidifiers consume a lot of electricity as well. So that would be the next thing I could look at for excessive usage. Problems with dehumidifiers that self drain can easily go unnoticed, bad sensor, dirty coils, etc…

Once we rule out anything unusual with your major devices we go from there.

1 Like

Also, what is your always on wattage?

In looking at the last year. I took the daily Always On wattage. The resulting average was: 650 Watts

If you’re still in Plymouth, MN like your profile says, you have a $0.1148/kWh rate. 650 Watts always on = 468kWh for a 30-day month = $53.73, so that’s about 15% (which isn’t huge, but also nothing to completely ignore).

Do you have an idea of how often and how much your water heater runs? Has Sense detected your water heater (and if so, how much confidence do you have in the completeness of its detection)?

Do you have central AC? Gas heat?

If you’re comfortable in your electrical panel, you could get the Sense flex connectors and use them in DCM mode and move the CTs around from one day (or week) to the next to see what circuit(s) contribute the most to your overall usage, and once you have that, you can figure out what is on those circuits that might be responsible.

Okay, so I replaced my wifi in the spring of this year, and forgot to reconnect my sense because I wasn’t really using anymore and didn’t know what to do with all of the data. It is now reconnected. I do have all of 2020 data though.

I will try to answer your questions:
Energy Charge Summer 1160.17 kWh $0.103010
Energy Charge Winter 1082.83 kWh $0.088030

My trends need to be recalculated after reestablishing connection of my unit. However, I would pay attention to the previously, and my arrow was always pegged at the top end of the comparison for average homes in my area.

Sense has detected 33 devices
Looking at all of 2020 data, if I did my pivot table correctly. It looks like my top utilizers are:
Average across the entire year, on a Daily Basis:
Water Heater - 22.7 kwh
Always On - 15 kwh
AC - 8 kwh
Some Heat Device? - 4kwh

No Hot Tubs or Pool

So your device “water heater” is costing you about $60 per month.

HVAC systems can be tricky as far as what and how it’s detected/reported.
AC could be your entire unit, the compressor, fan, central fan, or any combination.
Heat could be really anything with an electric heating element. It could be the heating element of your water heater and the “water heater” could be the pump.

As qrnef mentioned CT’s are a great way to narrow things down to the circuit level.

An alternative is to pick a day when no one else is home (no kids) and you can turn most everything in your house off. To make it electrically quiet, no big spikes/changes on the power meter. If you can turn off breakers that’s even better.
Turn the breakers on one at a time (leaving your router and Sense on), wait a few minuets and note the consumption and what you know is on that circuit. Go by the meter screen, do not use the bubbles for this.

Turn the breaker(s) for your HVAC system on, make sure the units start up and note how much your AC uses, switch to heat and do the same.
Then do the same for your hot water system. On so on.
This will give you a much better idea if Sense is detecting the entire unit or partially detecting components of the unit.

You can watch for bubbles to appear, but they may not as turning off breakers most often results in Sense missing the off signature, and can miss the next on signature as well. So don’t rely on them.

1 Like

Check to see if your utility offers an energy audit. My utility (Xcel) does. I didn’t find it to be super useful, but I had already done a lot of efficiency improvements before they came out. I expect it would probably be more valuable for your case.

Even if your utility doesn’t offer a program, it’s probably worth paying someone to look at it given your energy usage. With a 1970’s house using that much energy, I’d expect there’s a lot of efficiency improvements you could make through insulation or mechanical systems that would be less expensive than offsetting that usage with solar. Make sure your energy audit looks at HVAC/insulation, as that’s probably where most of your energy is going.

Everyone else is giving you good advice too. Here’s my pseudo-educated guesses for things to look at:

  1. Your “Always On” is probably the easiest to DIY. I’ve had some good luck with “Master-on” power strips for computers and tv’s (these are power strips that cut power to all the accessories when the main device turns off). I’ve also put a number of items on timers utilizing smart switches.
  2. Your hot water heater seems to be large for your house, but whether it is oversized really depends on how you use it. We have a similarly sized house and do fine with a 55 gallon tank. But we have kids that shower in the evening while we shower in the morning. We also have lowish flow showerheads. You’d probably get a decent payback switching to a higher efficiency unit.
  3. I’d expect your highest ROI will likely come from home insulation and air sealing since the house was built in the 1970’s.
  4. As an FYI, I was able to connect my water recirculator to some Flic buttons (combined with some smart plugs and Alexa). This gives me the benefit of the recirculator without all of the energy loss. I just have to remember to push the button ~5 minutes before I want to shower.