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This Startup Aims to Help Homeowners Save on Energy Costs

Sense

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wasted energy is an expensive habit in the United States, with Americans spending about $100 billion every year on wasted energy from buildings, heating and cooling units, and other sources. The solution is to make buildings more energy efficient through better materials, designs, and technology.

Much of the technology focuses on making buildings smarter – including homes – by incorporating tools that can gather data on how appliances and other power systems behave. One of the leaders in home energy intelligence is Sense, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup specializing in energy-disaggregation technologies designed to make homes more energy efficient.

The company uses machine learning and AI to provide real-time applications that give consumers insights into how energy is used in their homes. Its technology lets homeowners monitor their appliances on an app, determine whether the appliances are running when they shouldn’t be, and identify ways to cut energy costs. Sense has received investments from two of the world’s largest energy technology companies: Schneider Electric, an electrical equipment manufacturer, and Landis+Gyr, a smart-meter company.

Photo Courtesy Sense

Sense’s latest funding round came in April when it announced the close of a $105 million Series C financing led by Blue Earth Capital. TELUS Ventures and MCJ Collective participated, along with previous investors such as Schneider Electric, Energy Impact Partners, Prelude Ventures, and iRobot.

The round brought Sense’s total funding to nearly $157 million.

Sense was cofounded in 2013 by Mike Phillips, the company’s CEO; Christopher Micali, VP of Product; and Ryan Houlette, VP of Engineering. Its original mission was to impact climate change – starting with its Sense Home Energy Monitor for consumers, which Phillips called ​a “fancy energy monitor.” 

Photo Courtesy Sense

“We’ve always known that the fastest path to mass market adoption is to get our core technology built into the infrastructure of homes,” Phillips said. “This funding allows us to work with our key strategic partners to bring Sense intelligence into millions of homes. By making the core systems of homes intelligent and by engaging consumers, Sense will play a key role in the energy transition and accelerate the drive to greater efficiencies and electrification in homes.”

The Sense Home Energy Monitor is a $299 device that can determine how much energy a home uses by a single connection to the home’s electric circuits. Customers can then use that information to determine where they can cut back on power and switch to more energy-efficient systems. Getting real-time data on energy use is increasingly important as more homes add solar panels, backup batteries, EV chargers, and electric heating systems. 

Photo Courtesy Sense

The $105 million funding round will help Sense expand its role with strategic partners Landis+Gyr and Schneider Electric, embedding Sense’s technology into smart meters and smart electrical panels, respectively. 

As Canary Media reported, Sense can also send its energy-sensing data to Wi-Fi-connected devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, LED lighting from Philips Hue, and ​smart plugs made by companies such as Belkin Wemo and TP-Link Kasa. 

Sense’s technology aligns with a changing landscape in the home energy market amid a move by home builders and contractors to install new electrical panels in older homes and utilities to deploy the next generation of smart meters. Sense is one of several startups specializing in energy-disaggregation tech, with some focusing on the residential market and others serving commercial buildings.

Photo Courtesy Sense

This new infrastructure “should be smart and future-proofed to adapt to the changes that the transition to electrification and renewables will require over their lifespan,” Sense stated. By embedding intelligence as updatable software, core components of the new energy infrastructure can adapt over time and connect to the evolving set of smart devices being adopted by consumers.

“We have seen Smart Home technology move from a convenience to a practical tool as homeowners prioritize sustainability and resilience in their homes and seek out actionable information around their energy use,” Michael Mahan, Schneider Electric’s Senior Vice President, Home & Distribution North America, said in a statement. “Working with Sense to integrate energy intelligence into our Square D Energy Center platform allows us to provide homeowners with grid-to-plug insight into their home energy and control of that energy – whether from the grid, solar, battery, or other sources – conveniently from their smartphone.”

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