If you want to be smarter about your home’s electrical use, the first step is knowing what the devices and appliances plugged into your walls are costing you. The Sense smart home device does that: It gets wired into your home’s electric panel and can show you, in real-time through an app and your WiFi network, the electrical draw in your house and what it’s costing you. We’ve been using it for a few months and found it helpful in putting real costs to electric hogs in our house, like the microwave, toaster oven, HVAC equipment, or the security lights we leave on overnight.
Unlike a lot of smart home tech, Sense really requires an electrician to install. With its companion app, the system works to identify electric devices that you turn on and off. For example, we received an email that it correctly suggested was a dehumidifier during the summer, but it misunderstood other appliances. It can take weeks to nail all the major devices in your house. But its timeline is helpful to see, for example, when the garage door opener kicked in—a sign that the kids are home from school.
Sense gives you a great idea of how much energy you’re using and the app is very intuitive. But if your goal is to hunt down and destroy vampire electricity, you might not learn all that much. We already know leaving your cable box plugged in overnight draws power even when you’re not watching TV—but unplugging it or plugging it into a power strip and turning that on and off each day seems like an impractical solution. — Sal Vaglica, Senior Editor
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