July 26, 2018 -- Efficiency Vermont and Sense have launched a pilot program with more than 200 Vermont households to assess how an innovative smart home technology can inspire people to use less energy and make their homes more efficient.
Sense offers a home energy and awareness monitor that, combined with Efficiency Vermont programs and services, can transform how customers understand their own energy use and continuously encourage them to beat their “personal best” in saving energy.
After the first six months, the findings from pilot households indicate new electric savings potential of more than 8 percent, which, if achieved, would lead to an average annual cost savings of $100 per household. Though it’s early, if the findings of the pilot study indicate that larger scale deployment is warranted, Efficiency Vermont may offer a program to support customer adoption within the next year or two.
Using Sense, homeowners can monitor their energy use and solar production by day, week, month or billing cycle and receive alerts notifying them if they are on track to meet their goals. The Sense monitor is installed in a home’s electrical panel and uses machine learning to identify a home’s individual devices such as refrigerators, microwaves, dehumidifiers, garage doors, and roof-top solar panels. This enables homeowners to track down sources of inefficiency in their home.
“With Sense, consumers have new insights into their homes and lives,” said Mike Phillips, Sense CEO. “They see how much electricity they’re using, what time their kids got home, or if they left the oven on. With this knowledge, they can be more efficient, informed, and secure.”
Customizing the Vermont Experience
Energy efficiency is the first of many benefits that this new technology could offer to customers in Vermont, as well as to the grid operators, distribution utilities, and contractors who serve them. Efficiency Vermont envisions a near future when large numbers of residential customers are utilizing smart home devices like Sense to not only identify and replace inefficient appliances in their homes, but manage when they use certain appliances to take advantage of lower time-of-use rates offered by their electric utility. This could save customers money and help reduce peak electricity demand in Vermont.
To help Vermonters maximize their ability to save energy and money, the pilot study explores the effect of customizing the Sense experience for Vermonters. As participants learn more about how their home is using energy, they also receive specific information about how to reduce their usage and are connected to resources like Efficiency Vermont programs to help them take action.
“It won’t be long before smart home technologies like Sense will be as ubiquitous as smart phones,” said Efficiency Vermont Director Karen Glitman. “The ability to track data at the device level sets it apart from current smart meter technology, which is only able to provide data at the building level. These insights may prompt faster adoption of electric vehicles, cold climate heat pumps, and other new technologies that use Vermont’s clean, locally sourced renewable electricity.”
The Sense pilot is an example of how Efficiency Vermont seeks out the next wave of energy efficiency technologies and services, works directly with manufacturers and suppliers, and engages with contractors and installers to make sure Vermont customers can benefit from the state-of-the-art in energy efficiency.
Efficiency Vermont began recruiting pilot participants at the end of 2017, providing free Sense monitors and paying for installation by a licensed electrician. The pilot study officially launched with installations starting in December 2017, and will run until the end of 2018. During the pilot, Efficiency Vermont and Sense are regularly contacting participants to increase their familiarity with the technology and connect its use to energy savings opportunities in the home. This includes customized savings recommendations that will get “smarter” over time as Sense detects and tracks more devices in the homes.
By working closely with Sense, Efficiency Vermont, and partner utilities can shape the user experience for Vermonters, so that along with real-time information about the energy performance of their home, they receive tips and tools that will empower them to save more money.
Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and is regulated by the Vermont Public Utility Commission to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont's environment. For more information, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com