Time of use pricing


I sent this in as a suggestion a while back but I thought I would add it here so people could comment and like to see how much interest there actually is.

I like the idea of a cost feature so you can easily have an idea of what a particular item is costing you. However we are on a split price plan that has a higher cost during peak hours. It would be nice if you could input a schedule and different costs during those scheduled times.

Time of use metering
Time based energy cost

This is something we are working hard on implementing. I’ll pass the feedback on!


I use Alabama Power in Montgomery, Alabama and they also have a Time of Day pricing. I pay $1.50/KW each month for the peak KW usage (typically 6 - 13 KW each month) for my peak demand charge. Then, the peak rates for Winter are December through April only Monday - Friday from 5 am - 9 am. The peak rates for Summer are June through September only Monday - Friday from 1 pm - 7 pm. Holidays are also excluded from peak utility rates.


Hi. MachoDrone gets charged more per kilowatt hour during his first 800KWh/mo. Then the rate lowers for the remaining usage of the month.
MachoDrone found that if he simply takes his total cost of his bill, divide it by the consumed kilowatt hours, he pays $0.1345/KWh …this is nearly twice as much more to the $0.07 that electric company advertises when considering other fees. So MachoDrone told his Sense app the.cost per kilowatt hour is $0.1345.
Sense is accurate enough to be less than $1 different than the electric bill.
You may have to adjust your cost per KWh twice per year for your specific billing seasons, but give this strategy a try. A good way to pre-test this idea is to use this formula on all your bills from this past winter and see what your cost per kilowatt hour compares for each billing period… Then maybe average-out those final results.
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Wish for Usage table to show $X.yy

MachoDrone, That is an odd pricing plan that your utility provides and is the opposite of what most utilities use. It does not favor conservation or efficiency. What state is this? Is this for residential or commercial?


MachoDrone thought the same thing. It’s AEPOhio. The price decrease after 800KWh is mild.
With all their extra fees, like Generation fee, Distribution fee, just to have a meter on my house is $4 (last time checked), etc, it’s ridiculous they say they only charge something like 7.25 cents per kilowatt hour… So MachoDrone just divides the total bill by killowatt hours
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How are you doing on getting the time of day pricing to work??? Without this 24/7 price feature, the Sense box power cost data is really not very accurate at all.


I actually can’t believe this 24/7 pricing structure wasn’t built into the first version of your software. Across a 24 hour day my price per kilowatt can change three times. I pay 24.3 cents kilowatt in evenings, 10.9 cents all night to afternoon and then in the winter months I have a 3.2 cents per kilowatt rate during morning times. I sure hope you move this up on your priority list otherwise all the power costs charts are useless.


Hey Rex. Time of day pricing is still in development. It’s much more challenging than it sounds to implement, but we are working hard on it and hopefully can roll it out soon.


I’ve been talking to a programmer and showed him what the sense program does already and he said adding the 24/7 grid to the program would be simple. He programs healthcare management programs at the multi-million dollar level so I’m going to go with what he says for now.


I’m guessing that your buddy hasn’t looked at PG&E’s ToD/ToU pricing. I actually wrote a program to price my energy based on PGE’s pricing calculations and learned a lot. The issue is not so much programming it, but figuring out the UI for inputing all the complex variables that go into ToD calculations for many different utilities:

  • Billing periods - PGE billing doesn’t line up with months or even specific days in a month. It moves around so one really has to input a list of all the billing periods for a specific year ahead of the calculations.

  • Classes of days - PGE has two classes of days for billing schedules, but some utilities have more. PGE separates weekdays from weekends and holidays. That means one has to have a way of inputing classes plus specifications for each class. That includes inputing a list of PGE holidays before calculating cost

  • Billing schedule pricing levels - PGE has 3 possible pricing levels in a day for each class of days - peak, partial-peak and off-peak. Weekday classed days have 3 pricing levels (4 pricing periods in the schedule), weekends and holidays only have 2 levels (2 pricing periods).

  • Billing seasons - PG & E has two billing seasons, Winter and Summer, but some utilities have more. For each billing season, the pricing schedule can move around a little. That means you have to have a way of inputing the seasons, which may vary by a few days from year to year. Plus the prices vary for each pricing level based on the season.

  • Separate per kWh transmission and delivery charges - I actually use a different energy supplier than PG&E, so my transmission, and other “junk” charges are calculated separately from my TOU, but are simple per kWh calculations.

  • I ended up with the multi-dimensional rate schedule below where some charges are simple kWh charges all the time and other vary with period per the schedule for that specific day and by season.


  • Tiering - In addition PGE charges an tiered efficiency surcharge on top of all the other costs to steer customers to conservation. IN PGE’s 3 tier case, customers who stay within the lowest per month tier (based on a daily baseline allowance) are subsidized (negative surcharge), but the surcharge becomes positive for all incremental energy used beyond the next two baseline tiers.

It’s hard for me to imagine Sense building a one-size-fits-all partially programable calculator for the final calculation that works for every utility. There are really two parts to the problem:

  • Annotating/decorating the power data with all the time varying parameters (pricing period, season, billing period) that are needed to do the needed billing calculations.
  • Doing the multi-part calculation - ToD component, non-ToD calculations, tiering calculations, tax calculations, etc. to reach a final value.

I would like to see Sense focus first on annotating / decorating the the power data with needed data for the billing calculations, so they can start showing usage graphs in terms of different pricing regimens (slightly different color green bars for peak, off-peak, and partial-peak for examples).


AEPohio has some of the simplest billing… However, it’s still convoluted enough that if MachoDrone was to program anything to track it, it’d be pointless.
MachoDrone would be lucky enough that they would restructure their billing system weeks after he created it.
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Thanks for that breakdown @kevin1. It’s a solid illustration of the complexity if we want to do it right where it’s actually useful for the bulk of customers who want ToU pricing. In many cases, it’s not just a simple case of “Input the three different rates and the three time blocks.” It’s frequently much more convoluted than that, is with PG&E.


As a fellow software engineer, might i suggest releasing the “simpler” version with time of day usage based solely on different rates for different times, then release the more complex version when it’s ready?


YES YES YES that would be great and will make the Sense box many times more accurate on bill forecasting. Now that Goals has been added to the Trends section a more accurate billing is needed more than ever


Now that you can download your data as .csv, I’ve created a spreadsheet that allows me to parse out the ToU cost. It helped me make the decision to switch to ToU from fixed rate billing. I should save $40 to $60 per month.


That’s great! We’re still planning on including ToU in the near future, but would you be willing to share your template? I’m sure other users here would love to know what you did.


Cool, I’ld be interested to see how you did it. I build a TOU comparison system in R, but it was fairly complicated and really did 3 separate steps:

  1. Decorating each hour of Net Usage with all the needed TOU info (6 flavors: on-peak, off-peak, partial-peak, for both winter and summer). Then summing the number of each of the 6 TOU flavors of hours for each billing period.
  2. Computing the billing period costs for each component (all 6 TOU flavors of PGE generation, distribution and renewable, plus regular non-TOU generation, distribution, plus all the junk charges that are common to TOU and normal plans.
  3. Summing up the comparable numbers based on the different possible options.
  • Non-TOU with tiering
  • TOU
  • The same for using outside 100% renewable generation.


Ryan will Sense also have a way to calculate demand charges when the ToU feature is released? Our bill is based on ToU and an additional demand charge. The demand component takes the highest KWH used in a 1 hour time period during peak pricing and multiplies that by a set rate. As an example if for July our highest use during peak was 4KW we would have an additional charge of $17 x 4KW on our bill. The demand plan gives us much lower cost per kwh and forces us to use a minimal amount of power during peak hours. Our actual plan is here: https://www.aps.com/library/rates/SaverChoiceMax.pdf


My spreadsheet is super crude and wasn’t meant for consumption outside of myself. I’ll put some more effort into it and share it once I make it a bit nicer.