What’s new in V34 (iOS/Android): Time of Use Billing

We’re very excited to announce v34 for iOS and Android, adding support for Time of Use billing plans, where the cost per kWh varies depending on the times you’re consuming electricity. This feature will add improved cost accuracy for those with Time of Use billing plans and provide alerts, enabling you to take instant action and save money during your peak rate periods. This update is available on iOS and Androi and can be accessed via the Web App (home.sense.com) as well.

Rate Zones

You are now able to create discrete “Rate Zones” for each time period where your cost varies throughout the billing year. These can be filled out with information from your utility. Once your plan is implemented via Rate Zones, Sense will begin to input cost data on these new rates. You can enter Rate Zones for your active billing year as well as create historic zones to backfill prior data, increasing the accuracy of your entire Sense history. To avoid having to input new Rate Zones every year, you can either create “future” Rate Zones(which will go into effect on the specified date) or set your Rate Zones to automatically roll over to the following year. You can enter Rate Zones via Settings > My Home > Electricity Info.

Alerts

With this release, Sense will now provide specific alerts related to your Time of Use plan.

  1. You can set optional alerts for when you enter each of your rate zones
  2. You will receive timeline notifications (and optional push notifications) if you exceed your average usage during a peak period.

These alerts enable you to take real-time action based on your Time of Use rates, like shifting loads to a non-peak period.

As part of this feature, we will also begin defaulting new users and users who have not inputted billing rates to their national or state $/kWh average.

Note: New releases can take a couple of hours to fully deploy to the app stores.


You can learn more about the feature here: How to set your electricity cost

For an example of an actual Time of Use billing plan set-up in Sense, click here: Setting Rate Zones for Time of Use

Knowledge base & Help Articles

8 Likes

Just compared the my PG&E cost results for the last billing (10/21 to 11/18) against the Sense TOU cost numbers. There’s lots of slop in the comparison because I’m using the PG&E rates in Sense, whereas I actually have PG&E billing for transmission & distribution and PCE (Penisula Clean Energy) for actual electricity. Plus I think the PG&E billing period (29 days) is shorter than the Sense billing period (31 days). But when I do the math, Sense says 417$ Total Usage minus 75$ Solar Production = 342$. PG&E says 228$ plus a PCE billing of 104$ = 332$. Not bad given the slop !

2 Likes

Update: Time of Use functionality is now available on the Web App (home.sense.com). You can set up Time of Use Rate Zones in the Web App via Settings > Electricity Info > Time of Use Rate Zones.

2 Likes

We’ve released a patch to v34 on iOS (v34.1 build 1524). Android and Web App updates are coming soon.

This includes a new ‘Duplicate Rate Zone’ button on the ‘Add/Edit New TOU Rate’ screens which will allow you to easily clone a TOU rate zone. This is especially useful for rate zones that need to be entered twice, like zones that occur multiple times in a day or zones that overlap multiple days (thanks @kevin1 for the great idea on this). This update also includes small copy tweaks and bug fixes.

2 Likes

Update: We’ve released the above patch for Android (v34.1 build 1211) and Web. This should be available for download in the Google Play Store in the next few hours.

2 Likes

image image

Is it possible to change these peak times so that is shows the actual cost of power like basic rate time frames but maybe in red or next to the 2x? “2x” alone doesn’t help me very much

On Android, Electricity Info > Time of Use Rate Zone card, the description ends with “or kWh tier” but this feature is not available.

Thanks for reporting this. It’s a known issue and we’ll be updating with a patch (alongside some additional Android bug fixes) next week.

Updating to add the feature? :smiley:

To clarify, this feature does not include the ability to add tiered rate plans. The patch/correction will be clarifying the copy on Android to reflect that.

I have ComEd in Illinois as a provider. I am using their real time pricing option, though most used fixed rate. They do offer a web API to read the real time price. It would be slick if Sense could pull the price and use it.

Here in Colorado I was part of the Time of Use trial with Xcel Energy. I’m very happy that Sense has added this highly desired feature. I have a conundrum though as one of the first on TOU and having solar Sense does not give me the option I need for my solar to be accounted for correctly.

With Xcel they credit my solar at the same TOU rates they bill. So it would be nice to have a toggle to have my Solar sell back rate follow my TOU rate instead of having a separate generation rate. Otherwise Sense will not be anywhere near accurate for my generation.

Interesting … I never filled in a Solar Sell Back rate because I have always had net metering, where my usage rate was always the same as my buyback rate. When the Sense TOU pricing feature was added, and I added my Rate Zone, it all worked exactly as you are asking for - same price for buyback as for usage. And I don’t even see a place to add a fixed buyback price anymore.

If you go to solar then hit the gear at the top to get to solar settings that’s where you set a sell back rate. Though with further testing it looks like if it’s set to 0 cents it follows the TOU rate, it’s not very intuitive though. Maybe and a blurb of text explaining this.

I don’t observe that setting the solar sell back rate to 0c has net metering follow the TOU rates for the solar usage “To grid” dollar value. That “To grid” value in the app seems to be just simply (and erroneously now with TOU rates) to be the energy sent back to the grid times the sell back rate.

(BTW, thanks Sense for adding TOU rates!! I hope this is just the beginning of what is possible now that baseline TOU rates are supported.)

Thanks for the reminder on where the solar buyback price lives… It appears that once you hop on the TOU Rate Zones, they take over as far as buyback pricing is concerned. For me, my Bill summary cost in Trends is the same, regardless of the value I enter for buyback. As @james_reilley highlights, the only place the sellback rate still affects things in in the longer Solar Summary when Sense calculates the “the grid” credit - I have my sellback set to zero.

BTW - Sense does a reasonable job of costing here given I buy 100% renewable energy via a CCA, so my pricing isn’t exactly my EVA-2 rates.

My bill for 32 days (11/19 - 12/20) is 542 My Sense bill for 30 days is 562-59 = 503. If I adjust for the missing days, 11/19-20, I get 530$.

I bet that “To grid” bug is fixed quickly by the Sense developers.

This does make be ponder how many electrical providers have 100% net metering plans, verses other less consumer friendly ways of compensating for solar generation. The new TOU feature is really only compatible with 100% net metering plans.

1 Like

Alright I finally figured out what was going on and it looks like a bug (I’ve reported it).

My off peak rate goes overnight and so I have to make two chunks of off peak since Sense doesn’t let me go past midnight. I turned off the alert for the midnight to 1pm chunk. This apparently turns off that chunk of TOU and defaults back to the flat rate instead of just turning off the notification. I noticed it this weekend since I have off peak all weekend and no alert since it’s all day. My solar/usage was showing 0 cents/hr and as soon as I turned the alert back on it showed the correct price.

1 Like

@gjas24, have you tried closing and then reopening the app after making your changes within the “Electricity Info” config menu? I’ve found that this is required, otherwise weird/wrong cost values result. (Yes, I would/do consider this a bug in the app.)

@james_reilley I just checked and restarting the app doesn’t help. Go ahead and try it if you use TOU. Set your flat rate to 0 then turn off the alert to the current TOU tier you are in. You then go back to home and you see everything drop to 0 cents/hr.