AC Energy Use Comparison

Air conditioners can account for more than a quarter of yearly energy use in the US homes, per the Energy Information Association. Sense compares your cooling costs to other similar homes to give you a gauge for how efficiently you’re cooling your home.

How do we measure it and compare you to others?

Sense calculates your average AC energy usage per day (kWh) during the summer months, and compares it to homes in a similar cohort. Based on the level of detail you’ve provided in your Home Details section of the Sense app, comparisons can take into account state, zip code, local weather, and home size.

Note that this feature currently only analyzes data from conventional 240V central ACs and is only available for US users at this time.

Simple saving tips

If you’re spending more to cool your home, there are a few simple things you can do to quickly curb your AC overspending. 

  • Set your thermostat back. The Department of Energy estimates savings of as much as 10% a year by setting your thermostat 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day, like when you’re not home.
  • Cover your windows. Per the DoE, 76% of the sunlight that hits standard double-pane windows becomes heat. Cover your windows during sunny periods and prevent much of that heat from entering. 
  • Turn on the fan. Turning on a fan instead of the AC can “spot cool” the room you’re in, without the high energy cost. And turning the fan on in addition to the AC can allow you to raise your thermostat by 4 degrees with no change in comfort.

While these options can help lower your spending in the short term, they’re ultimately treating symptoms and not the root cause of your high cooling costs. To get to the root cause, you need a home energy audit.

Auditing for home energy efficiency

Higher cooling costs can indicate issues with your AC or areas in your home where cooled air is escaping. A home energy audit can help. An energy audit assesses all aspects of your home that affect energy consumption and identifies the measures you can take to improve your home’s efficiency.

Home energy audits come in various forms. Many local utilities offer audits at little to no cost. These tend to rely largely on visual inspection of your home from the inside and outside, looking for a variety of issues like: insufficiently rated insulation and windows, poorly sealed holes where electrical and utility cables pass through, ducting leaks, filters requiring replacement, and more. Third-party audits tend to go deeper and may include services like a blower door test and infrared thermography to quantify the “leakiness” of your home and isolate the problem areas. Combined with an historical assessment of your energy bills, your energy auditor will be able to make informed recommendations of where you could see the largest efficiency improvements — and what those may mean for your bottom line.

Even if your audit costs money, those costs can be well worth it. Per the Department of Energy, you could save up to 30% on your energy bills by making upgrades suggested during an audit. In many cases, local utilities offer rebates for efficiency upgrades or directly subsidize the work. Some upgrades will also qualify you for loans that can help spread the cost out over time.

Finding a home energy auditor

Check with your utility first — many offer no- or low-cost audits. Energy Star also keeps a database of local services. You can find third-party auditors via directories at the Building Performance Institute and via RESNET.