What's new in v38 (iOS/Android)

Today, we’re very excited to announce our newest feature: Carbon Intensity. This mobile-only release is available on iOS v38.0 build 1568 & Android v38.0 build 1250 and will be available in the App Store and Google Play store shortly.

Our goal with this feature is to help users understand the carbon impact of their home’s energy use and see when they can shift large loads to reduce carbon impact. To that end, we’ve added grid carbon data from a third-party provider (Carbonara) into the Sense app.

How to access

You can access the feature via the new “Carbon” card on the Trends screen. This feature lets you:

  • View the real-time and historical carbon intensity of your home’s energy use.
  • See a 24hr carbon intensity forecast, which helps you know when you can shift large loads to low-impact times and reduce your home’s carbon impact.
  • See a breakdown of the fuel sources used to generate electricity for your grid region. (e.g. coal, natural gas, wind, solar, etc.)

What is carbon intensity?

Carbon Intensity measures the number of pounds of carbon dioxide that it takes to make a unit of electricity (kWh). Depending on your geographic region, your electricity’s carbon intensity may be highly variable or relatively flat. To learn more, check out What is Carbon Intensity.

A few notes

Sense CEO Mike Phillips and Wenbo Shi (co-founder and CEO of Singularity, creator of Carbonara) spoke to several Beta users in a video you can find here:

Dedicated Circuit/Standby Threshold update

We’ve issued a small tweak to the Dedicated Circuit feature. Due to low-level noise inherent to CT sensors, Dedicated Circuit devices could occasionally trigger errant on/off/standby events. We’ve fine-tuned the Standby feature for Dedicated Circuit devices to better account for this noise. The minimum allowable Standby threshold for these devices has been updated to 3W. For any users (a very small amount) who had set a Standby threshold to below 3W, we have updated your Standby threshold to 3W for any Dedicated Circuit devices. This does not apply to Smart Plug devices with Standby thresholds.

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Thanks for providing this innovative new feature. We purchase all of our household electricity from a company called clean choice energy. They promise to provide 100% renewable energy, therefore our carbon intensity should be zero. I hope Sense can soon accommodate this situation, and perhaps more sense users will switch to 100% renewable electrical energy.

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@lee, you touched on the first thought in my mind! I also purchase renewable energy, so wondered how this update applies to me. The video link above addresses this question. It is nice to know that Sense did not ignore us.

I’ll paraphrase the response from this video in case you are in a hurry, although I encourage you to watch the original since I may not be saying it correctly. Sense intentionally presents the utility level data regardless of user arrangements. Their reasoning is that as long as only a very small fraction of users make such choices, the overall effect is not significant. But by presenting the data, they certainly hope to get more users to make these choices, so that together we make a difference.

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I just looked at this carbon intensity, but I don’t think it is working with solar. Right now for the last week it is saying I have a 0.84 carbon intensity, but I generated over 100% of my electric from Solar this week. I would think my carbon intensity should be 0. (Oh and it is reporting a fuel mix for greater PA, while my zip code is in NJ)

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When there is no solar and you are using electricity from the grid, there will be carbon involved.
I have responded to Sense about the fact that the current calculation does not take into consideration that if you use a lot of electricity during the day and everything is provided by your own solar, your CI should be recorded as 0 for that time of the day.

This is an manually altered image of what sense says I had vs my manually added green line that I would have expected


That would have lowered my real used electricity from my utility CI over the whole day from 0.5 to (estimated) 0.125
Not even talking building up credit for exporting so much solar into the grid, making it even greener in my neck of the woods :wink:

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Were you actually never pulling anything from the grid during those hours where you overproduced? Keep in mind that large-draw devices, like electric stoves, dryers, and HVAC units may pull more than what your solar is producing, but since those large draws rarely (if ever) run for the full hour, your overproduction in those “off” times may more than make up for (kWh-wise) what you consumed, but your CI would still be greater than zero because you consumed some fossil-fuel-generated grid energy during those times.

Edit: I responded before I actually got the new version of the app to see what mine looked like. I was out of town today, had my AC set to where it probably didn’t run at all during the day (so I was pretty much just “Always On”, which would have easily been completely covered by my solar production). The line was nearly flat all day, so it appears to be simply the CI score of the grid, not that of your home. Given that, it would be nice if they would only show the “from grid” portion of the hourly bars (and don’t show the solar bars at all, since they don’t matter in this case). Then you can get a better picture of your home’s contribution to carbon emissions.

I wasn’t


I modulate my EV charger with how much power is available.
One of the reasons why Sense has a problem detecting my EV.

I suggested that the label should not be “your Avg CI” but “your Utility Avg CI”

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Perhaps this feature can be extended to calculate the user’s (electrical) carbon footprint and encourage purchase of the corresponding carbon offset credits.

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If you are over producing during the day I think an argument could be made that your CI score would be negative as you are not just producing more electricity than you are using, you are also reducing the output of the utility electric plants.

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Just for reference.
This is a day that I really used a lot of my solar capacity:


Charged 2 EVs, ran AC, electric clothes dryer cycle.

And yet my CI rating according to Sense:

If i got 90% of electricity I used from Carbon free solar, my “avg CI” was really way less than 0.4

My fuel mix is also reporting as Greater PA, and I’m in Illinois.

Look at the map to see which grid operator / regional transmission operator handles your region - NJ and parts of IL are handled by the same operator as PA, PJM.

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One more thought on CI. For me, I buy a different, more renewable mix from my local CCA (community choice aggregator). So I’m seeking a proxy metric for the my behavior that helps the most. I know that my CCA has purchased dedicated solar and wind via long term PPAs,so they aren’t directly competing with PG&E (the main utility) for renewables. I already have solar on my house so I’m pretty much at net zero (perhaps lower when solar is pumping to the grid), but I guess the next thing I should try is time shifting my biggest movable energy yes to the periods of the lowest CI.

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Today we’re releasing v38.1 (build 1254) for Android. This release fixes issues that would cause the app to crash in v38 and should release to all monitors within the next few days.

CAISO just added something fun to their side - a view of battery charging and discharging for the all the battery “peaker plants”. Today CA has about 2GW/8GWh of capacity, with more coming in Dec. I think this helps extend solar supply into the evening to reduce CI during that time period.