Getting a “Sense” of Your Home Energy Usage

As our homes become smarter and become extensions of our reflexes and reactions. One thing is missing, usable data reported to the consumer directly. Smart home products are becoming much more appealing to the average homeowner with the notion of controlling your lights with your voice, your phone, or even making an in application schedule. At some point, though as one gets further down the proverbial smart home path a few questions emerge. I now have sixty-one different smart devices in my home and counting, and the questions that I find myself asking are…why? Is it truly for comfort and convenience? Is it for security and peace of mind? Is it to show off to my friends? Am I now just another smart-home addict or am I an educated consumer in hopes that investing in these products now will save me money in the long run? The answer is probably all of the above to a certain degree. One of these answers though is the hardest to rationalize with the current state of the smart home industry. That question is How do we really know if we are of saving money and energy. With all the continuous marking we hear “This product and that product will save you so much money” it’s easy to lose sight of rational thinking and once question you should be asking yourself is “how can I verify after purchasing this product that I am in fact saving money”. Products like smart thermostats, smart irrigation controllers, ceiling fans, and even LED bulbs, all make bold promises of energy conservation that will undoubtedly lead to more money in our pockets, but there is one question that continues to haunt me, How do we know? Is it because Nest told us so? Or that the package on the Cree LED bulb we bought says we will save $128.00 over the lifetime of the bulb? Did Average Joe tell us that he saved hundreds of dollars switching to a Rachio Irrigation controller? (The last one is actually quite easy to calculate if you understand your watering habits and the price your water utility provider charges). With all this in mind, when it comes to electricity we really have no idea.

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Electrical energy monitoring has been a complete mess until now but one small company based in the United States has made it their sole purpose to change this. That company is appropriately named Sense and they are the developers of an exciting product that can read the electrical signatures of each and every powered device in your home. Armed with this data the product has the ability to identify and provide feedback on your homes electrical ecosystem. The Sense Energy monitor can tell you that you may have left your garage door opened or that you forgot to turn off the back porch light. Or maybe you want to know how long your dryer ran for, or what time the washer completed its cycle. What has really peaked my interest though is the ability to differentiate between products energy use and identify electrical “energy leakers” as I like to call them. For example, if I have two separate light fixtures one with an LED and one with a traditionalĀ incandescent bulb I should be able to really calculate the difference in energy consumption. While also finding out that the TV I leave plugged in the guest room, that I never watch, is draining unnecessary power and costing me a significant amount of money annually. Even more exciting is that Sense indicates that the data may be able to warn you of upcoming issues that you may have with an appliance such as a furnace by identifying irregular electrical patterns. In any event, this technology has me very excited to try out.
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So whats a house geek and smart home addict to do? I ordered one and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I see so many applications for the product that it is really hard for me to wrap my head around. This would be great for a landlord to predict HVAC failure, great for a business to help keep their costs down, and great for consumers to help keep their power bill in check. I will most certainly have much to say about this product in the near future after I have had some time to test it out. Stay tuned for more updates.



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