Few folks are aware of how much electricity their household consumes on a daily basis, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Among smart meter owners in 2016, only 8 percent reported knowing that they had access to hourly or daily data, and just 4 percent said they’d viewed that data. That’s all the more discouraging when you consider that always-on devices like DVRs and game consoles account for 23 percent of home energy usage — a total of $40 billion annually nationwide.
Boston-area startup Sense, which uses machine learning to provide real-time insights on electrical usage, is on a mission to effect change. It today revealed that energy management solutions firm Landis+Gyr has joined Schneider Electric, Energy Impact Partners, Shell Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group, and iRobot in bringing its series B round funding to $20 million. (The initial capital raised was $18 million.) Additionally, the two companies announced a partnership to bring Sense’s technology to Landis+Gyr’s Gridstream Connect IoT platform for utilities.
In the coming months, Sense’s home energy app, which monitors and measures energy consumed by electrical devices, will be available as an app that can be uploaded to the Connect IoT platform within Landis+Gyr’s power meters. It’ll allow users to see how much energy appliances, lighting, and other devices are using in real time and recommend ways to cut down on usage, and enable them to remotely view which in-home devices are on or in need of repair.
“We have found the key to engaging consumers around energy is to provide real-time, detailed views of energy and device activity, and to interface with an increasing number of smart home devices,” Mike Phillips, Sense’s CEO, said. “We’re excited to be working with Landis+Gyr, who shares our vision that the core infrastructure of the smart grid should support consumer-facing technologies such as Sense, providing significant benefits to utilities and their customers.”
Sense’s tech was developed by a pioneering team from Philips, Amazon, Nuance, Vlingo, ScanSoft, and SpeechWorks, many of whom specialize in voice recognition. With a combination of sensors that connect to breakers inside the home’s electrical panel, a Wi-Fi-enabled dedicated compute box, and number-crunching remote servers, Sense’s $299 home energy monitoring system is able to distinguish between the electrical signatures of plugged-in devices.
It’s not the first of its kind. Competitor Smappee operates at the fuse box level, recording the unique electronic signature of devices plugged into every outlet. And Currant‘s usage-monitoring products plug into any wall outlet.
However, John Radgowski, vice president of portfolio management at Landis+Gyr, argues that Sense has an advantage where usability — and granularity — is concerned. Its system records more than 1 million data points per second — a rate and volume that’s faster and larger, respectively, than some competitors, Sense claims.
“The Sense application is a great example of how our IoT platform brings value to utilities and consumers,” he said. “Applications such as this use the distributed computing power of our meters and devices to enable a wide range of benefits without requiring installation or maintenance of additional hardware.”
Sense has raised a total of $40 million over four funding rounds.