Please help me figure out my vampire load!

I have a fairly large house, and we are using a ton of energy. I’ve had Sense for a few years, but didn’t seriously try to figure out our loads until recently. I have put smart plugs on things like my desktop computer, air filters, and audio/home theater electronics. But my largest use is under “always on” in the Sense app. My “always on” is currently reading 1700 watts. In my most recent Sense monthly “Home Report” email, it listed Always On as 1826 watts, and my average wattage as 3438 watts. It says I am “higher than 98% of other similar sense users”. It used to say I was higher than 100% of other Sense users in Massachusetts (!).

Where is all the power going?? I have no idea. I’ve tried turning off refrigerators (we have 3), but they look to only be using 100 watts or so each.

Any suggestions as to how I can figure this out? It just seems like there’s some secret energy hogging piece of equipment hiding somewhere.

@dpt Welcome to the wonderful world of energy management! Without knowing your specific scenario, I would suggest starting at night, when your family is either asleep or winding down for bed - this is normally when energy consumption is lowest, and when you will likely find your most representative “Always On” numbers. Turn off electronics, minimize lighting, and watch your Sense power monitor as you isolate loads.

Keep in mind any large electrical loads - guessing from the usage you stated - you are likely using electric baseboard heat? Maybe a hot tub? If so, this will likely be a large consumer of your electrical energy. This can be confirmed by de-energizing heating circuits in your electrical panel, and seeing what kind of effect you notice in the Power Monitor

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Here is my “Other” from a few minutes ago.
I know what’s on and the devices are detected, Sense has just not been doing well lately and throwing everything in other.

@dpt Switch off that swimming pool heater!?!

I would start by making a list of all the devices you know you have and trying to include the peak wattage for those. A water heater for example is readily accountable in that fashion.

Through a process of elimination you should be able to narrow down the options pretty quickly. Likely it’s seasonally variable. As @ac.mackenzie11 suggests, baseboard heaters are high on the list. Under-floor electric radiant heat is also notoriously sneaky! Attic fans. Sewer pumps. And of course pool heaters!

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Thanks for the suggestions. I’m in Mass, so no pool this time of year! We do have a pool, and it is a big hog in the summer. No electric heat at all. Our furnace runs on natural gas. No spa (we have one of those too, but it’s emptied and turned off). We have a septic pump, but that only runs intermittently and wouldn’t be running hours after the last shower or toilet flush. Attic fan is unplugged. We do have a water heater, but Sense detects that and it’s broken out in the list of devices. The lowest usage should be in the middle of the day. I’m often the only one home, no TVs on or anything like that. But a steady 1700 watts of “always on”.

I have given this some thought, and I’ve tried to isolate out known devices.

Any other suggestions for tracking this down? Much appreciated! Please help me cut down on our consumption and single-handedly stop global warming.

@dpt 1800+W of “always on” energy, and not sure where it’s going… That’s a considerable amount of energy to account for. Do you have a heated garage or out-buildings (sheds/baby barns) that you are running electrical to?

It’s coming into the evening in Mass - I suggest turning off all loads you are aware of, and switch-off any associated power bars. De-energize the breakers to your refrigerators, and minimize the number of lights (or all the lights if you are ok using a flashlight or your cell phone light…)

Once you have the electrical load as low as possible - watch your Sense Power Meter - is it rock stable? Are there still things switching on and off?

Have you compared your Sense energy usage to your utility-provider energy use? (will give you an idea if Sense is giving an accurate measurement…)

Keep the feedback coming - we will find & beat this phantom load!!

@dpt,

Here’s a good recipe to sort out Always On.

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Wow, 1700 of always on a great opportunity to shed some waste! Like the rest said, you’ve got to have some pretty big draws to get to that level. Start flipping breakers and see where the load is!

I just went through this process yesterday morning. I turned off every breaker in my panels except for the breaker Sense was attached to. My Network equipment is on a UPS, so I had internet connectivity.

I created a spreadsheet with each breaker on it to document my findings. One by one I turned each breaker on and recorded the wattage. Found some things I need to look at. It also reset my Always On number.

The whole process took about an hour and a half. Worth the trouble.

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Yes, I should do this. Not trivial though because I have 5 different breaker panels scattered through my house. Like I said, it’s a big house.

Yeah, it takes some effort. I have two panels, one outside and one inside. Five panels would be a pain. You could try doing one panel at a time. Shut everything off in the panel, let Sense finds it’s bottom and turn each back on and see how the Meter reacts.

Good luck.

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So I just found one thing that might be a hog. We have one of those separate faucets in our kitchen sink with a small tank for a hot water heater, that you can get instantaneous boiling water from, for making tea and stuff. Last night I tried unplugging that and plugging it back in and there was an increased draw of 1200 watts. I think it turns itself to max when you first turn it on, it isn’t drawing that the entire time. Anyway, I just put a Kasa smart plug under the sink where it’s plugged in, and plugged that water heater and our dishwasher (the main one, we have 3…) into it. The Kasa is only reporting 3 watts consumption. And the dishwasher is running! That can’t be right. What’s up with that? Now I’m wondering if I can trust the Kasa plugs.

I’ve had great success with the Kasa plugs and strips. Maybe you have a bad one? Or a VERY efficient dishwasher…

Did you observe the dishwasher waveform through the whole set of cycles (typically 2 hours+) ? The dry cycle is going to be way more than that. I have found the Kasas to be very reliable and I have about 20 plugs worth.

Just curious what do you use 20 plugs on. I can’t really justify buying one. I have a few smart switches installed, but that was out of necessity. I want to find a reason. It seems to me, as far as the smart plug part of it, if I was to cut off a lamp via wifi, no one would be able to cut that lamp on by the lamp switch without first cutting the plug on. On the rare occasion we have a babysitter I see issues like that being a problem. I like smart switches because they are still switches.

OK I realize I may have “lost the plot” here from the get-go …

Just because your AO (Always On) is high and your average usage is high does not necessarily mean that your “always on” devices are actually always on. Your AO could be thrown by the device types and activity.

So:

  • Have you looked at your Mains Power Meter and seen a consistent 1,800W for, say, the last year, month or does it dip below that? For the last week? The last 48 hours?

  • You say the average usage is 3,438W … that is large but I assume you are seeing that in “Compare” for “the last 30 days”.

  • Downloading and analyzing your entire history might be a good step if you can’t track things down.

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@billlokey, good question…
First off, I don’t use the smarplugs for their “switch capabilities”. I use them to measure power going to devices that Sense is not likely to ever get smart enough to completely detect. Here’s a partial list along with some analysis of the different modes these devices operate in based on their hourly power consumption.

Second, most of the plugs come from 3 HS300 powerstripas, that measure the power out of each plug.

My 2c is that it is worth investing in at least one HS110 plug to use with Sense for “exploring” usage of devices that Sense hasn’t detected yet… For example, here’s a view of my new-ish LG washing machine running through it’s cycles courtesy of an HS110 smartplug.

Convinced. Just bought one on Amazon to play with. I can at least get my sense to stop thinking my laser printer is my dishwasher.

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We installed a Sense yesterday. I look forward to being able to do the breaker test in such a “civilized” way. Right now, because we have solar generating all day, and our main power is outside in the back, we need to have one person stand outside at the meter with a flashlight & walkie-talkie while the other flips breakers. Then wait a bit as the meter only cycles through its readings every 10 seconds or so. Doing it while standing at the box with the app running will be 100x easier!

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Coming to this post months later. I am curious if you found the culprit(s) and if so what method worked in tracking the high wattage?