How to set your electricity cost

Sense will default you to the national or state average cost per kWh, but you can get more accurate cost estimates if you input your specific electricity cost. 

Sense supports both basic plans with a single cost per kWh as well as Time of Use plans where the cost per kWh varies based on a schedule set by your utility.

Single-Cost Plan

If you only pay a single rate per kWh, the easiest way to calculate the price you pay per kWh is to divide your total electrical bill by the kWh used for the period. 

On this example bill, total usage shows 393kWh [2] with a cost of $95.54 [1]. Some quick division provides an estimated cost per kWh of about 24¢. Set this number for Default Electricity Cost.

To find your billing cycle start date, look for the service period [3] on your electric bill. The start of the period is your billing cycle start date.

Be sure to periodically update your rates, depending on the frequency that your plan adjusts.

Time of Use Plan

If your electricity cost varies depending on the time it’s used, you’re likely on some variation of a Time of Use plan. Finding full rate information for your Time of Use plan can require a bit of sleuthing. To start, grab your most recent bill. There’s a chance it provides your rate information and schedules for the entire billing year. If so, you can start entering your data in the Sense app. If it only provides your details for the current billing period, or only provides rate information but not schedule information, you’ll need to get more information from your utility. You should be able to find a full rate schedule on your utility’s website.

To enter in your Time of Use rates, you’ll need a couple pieces of information:

  • The cost per kWh [1] for each of your Time of Use zones
  • The days and times [2] for which your different rates apply
  • The seasonal differences [3], if any, for your rate plan

Setting your rates with Rate Zones

You’ll need to translate the information from your bill or rate schedule to Sense via Rate Zones. A Rate Zone represents a single chunk of time within a 24 hour period (from 12AM to 12AM) where your energy cost has changed. A Rate Zone is active in the date range provided at the top of this screen. For example — if you have an On Peak rate that goes from 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday, and is active from October 1 to May 31, you would set a Rate Zone like this:

tou-mockup

Do this for all of your Time of Use periods. 

Some helpful tips:

If your rate schedule changes throughout the year, you’ll need to create multiple sets of Rate Zones to reflect when they should be applied. Rate Zones set for future dates will appear under the Future Rate Zones section. When a Rate Zone ends, it’ll be moved to the Historic Rate Zones section.

If your Rate Zone occurs multiple times a day, or overlaps multiple days (e.g., it’s active from 8PM to 8AM), you’ll have to create two Rate Zones. This allows you to better tailor Time of Use-based alerts. This process is easy with the Duplicate Rate Zone button at the bottom of the New TOU Rate screen.

If you’re finding your Time of Use schedule complex and requiring a lot of entry, you may be able to utilize the Default Electricity Rate in place of your lowest Time of Use zone. The Default Electricity Rate is active during any gaps where Rate Zones aren’t active.

Be sure to set your Rate Zone to recur if your schedule stays the same year to year. That toggle will recreate this Rate Zone for the following year when it ends. And if you want to know when you enter this Rate Zone so you can shift loads and save money, be sure to leave the toggle for alerts enabled. Sense will also automatically alert you if you’re using more during this Rate Zone than normal.

If you want to correct your billing history prior to the availability of the Time of Use feature, you can enter Rate Zones prior to current date. Sense will backfill your costs historically, for as long as those Historic Rate Zones are present in the app.

Follow along with an example Rate Zone setup.

Note that Sense does not allow for direct input of additional tariffs, demand charges, or fixed charges. This feature also does not support tiered or baseline electrical rates. Given that Sense cannot support the varied idiosyncrasies of particular utilities, perfect bill match is unlikely with this feature, but it should provide more accurate calculations for your usage costs, while helping you to tailor your usage around your Time of Use periods.