For TOU billing users, do you change your habits to minimise your bills?

Do you change your use of the following devices to lower your bill:-
Pool pump/heater
Electronic vehicles (This seems to be a given based on many posts)
Electrical heating
Other high load devices

Did changing your habits make a lot of difference to your bill?

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I don’t have TOU billing, but my habits would revolve around it if I did have TOU.

I just signed up for ToU billing. Based on my first month of logged data with Sense, I would have saved a fair amount without changing my habits.

I’m not planning on changing my habits much, but I am planning on doing the following:

  1. Set EV to charge at night.
  2. Shower in evenings rather than in mornings so water heater runs off-peak.
  3. Do laundry in evening, and turn on dryer before bed. (We do this anyway)
  4. Set thermostat to tweak the temperature setpoint to avoid running heat pump on-peak.
  5. My dishwasher has a 4 hour delay setting. I will start using this to run it off-peak.

I try to time shift using the dishwasher and the dryer, but we have a person who helps with laundry, so that is only partially feasible.

The big item that is easy to move is EV charging. Most of that is scheduled by the cars to start at midnight or 1am. But sometimes schedules force us into painful daytime or evening charging.

You can see our electricity usage patterns throughout the day in the first chart here:

The short answer is yes. I am a solar generator who is paid wholesale pricing for the surplus energy put back on the grid. During my first five years of production, I was paid nearly double for my energy production by NC Green, an aggregator for early adopters. As Kevin points out, the EV is the number one device that is easily adjusted. During my first five years, I always charged at night allowing me to sell about $5,000 of solar generation to offset the cost of the array. Now that I receive wholesale pricing, I use a smart EVSE to do just the opposite by maximizing my use of solar. I really like the Sense mobile solar app’s graphic historgram showing solar vs home usage. Now that we have an export function, I plan to track this even closer.

In general, you don’t want to make changes that alter your lifestyle, but TOU, and to a lesser degree, the Sense “Always ON”, assists you in making changes that are good for your energy consumption, which in turn is good for the environment, good for your utility provider, and good for your pocketbook.
EVs are the largest consumers. Electric hot water heaters are also energy hogs, especially storage tanks opposed to on demand. I actually can see the resurgence of smart storage tanks, particularly when used with solar they function like a big water battery. Clothes dryers are less but still pretty large consumers of energy at least until the sonic dryer is marketed. Almost every dishwasher has a delay start. New clothes dryers are doing the same. Tackle those appliances and you have put a dent in your TOU.


Most of us in AZ are on TOU plans. The key is not running energy hogs like washing machines, dryers, and dish washers during the day and minimizing always-on usage. Additionally, in the summertime we supercool our home hours before peak pricing kicks in. The idea is to cool your home as much as you can stand during the cheaper hours to avoid running AC during peak hours. Peak prices are 3x the off-peak charge so it saves a lot of money. Our electricity provider just introduced new plans a few months ago and we’ve been experimenting with a blended TOU/Demand charge. This further drops our KWH pricing but we have an additional fee where we’re charged $15x the highest peak use hour of the month. It’s confusing but as long as we keep use to a minimum during peak hours we end up saving significantly.

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We’ve had PV since January, 2003. To answer the OP’s question, YES, we’ve developed common sense habits through the years. Like running the dishwasher and laundry on non-peak hours. Unfortunately, our all-electric kitchen has to be used during peak time, preparing dinner.

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We have been on TOU for nearly 40 years… I know I’m old…LOL We have adjusted accordingly. The water heater and all other large power users are on digital timers and only work during off peak times. The power utility sends me each month how much I save. For 2018 I have saved nearly $500. The slight inconvenience is worth the savings IMO.


I have been on a time of use AND demand rate for 26 years. Anything we can do off peak we have done. I also utilize a load controller to keep my demand as low as possible by killing the A/C and dryer. We get alerted when we start to exceed demand limit. Not real fun but I have saved over $16,000 in demand charges alone in the last 25 years.


That’s good to hear. We have a load controller on the side of our house and it has hoops that go around the electrical lines coming into the house just like sense does. I don’t know how to use it and the controller looks ~20 years old at a glance. I had the electrician take a look when he was installing sense but he had no idea how it worked either.

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#Senseinaz- look at the controller and get a model number - my bet is Pensar 1000 or Pensar 2000. If it’s one of those, I can point you in the right direction for diy programming. If you have solar however, it would be incompatible as mine was. I replaced mine with the updated version 4 weeks ago.

Just checked and it looks like it’s a pensar 3131. Not sure if you can assist with it. There is no info on who installed it or anything so I’ve just let it sit.

Call me 623.764.5872. Definitely can help you out.

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This the unit?

That looks exactly like mine. I’ll reach out to you next week for more info, thank your for the help!

To respond on the remainder of the OP’s devices:
Dehumidifier and pool pump - yes I use timers to shut these off for some of the peak period. It doesn’t hurt to have humidity creep up for a few hours and then come back down when peak ends.
I also use digital outlet timers for window AC units.
And to briefly reiterate what others have said, yes I delay EV charging, and used to delay electric dryer and dishwasher use, all of which are pretty easy to do.
I did all of this before getting Sense. Unfortunately, right around the same time I got Sense, my utility discontinued the residential TOU rate. Even now, some of these habits (like running AC units in the morning when the air is cooler) save kWh, and I’m helping to cut down on dirty “peaking” electricity generation.


One interesting thing that I have done is to add TOU charting to my Sense outputs so I get a better picture of:

Daily Time of Use by month

Daily Time of Use by Device

See if you can guess what White Lightning is.

Code for doing this here:

SenseAudit.R (5.1 KB)

Side file with PG&E holiday info here:

pgeholidays.csv (1.9 KB)

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