Example: Setting Rate Zones for Time of Use

Learn more about the Time of Use feature here.

To enter in your Time of Use rates, you’ll need a couple pieces of information. You should be able to find this on your rate schedule, usually available from your utility’s website:

  • 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

Let’s look at each rate season separately.

The Winter season lasts from October 1 to May 31. These rates apply every day of the week in that time period, from Sunday to Saturday. There are three different rates (Super Off Peak 4¢, Off Peak 5¢, and On Peak 8¢) which occur in 5 discrete chunks throughout the day:

  1. Super Off Peak – 12am-5am
  2. On Peak – 5am-10am
  3. Off Peak – 10am-5pm
  4. On Peak – 5pm-10pm
  5. Super Off Peak – 10pm-12am

For each one of these, you’ll need to create a Rate Zone in the Sense app. Since a Rate Zone represents a single chunk of time within a 24 hour period (from 12AM to 12AM), you’ll need to create multiple Rate Zones for a Time of Use rate that occurs multiple times a day, like Super Off Peak and On Peak in the example above. You can easily do this with the Duplicate Rate Zone button at the bottom of the New TOU Rate screen.

Be sure to use a unique name for each Rate Zone. Doing so will help troubleshoot any errors that might arise, and allow you to better break down your energy usage.

As an alternative to creating multiple Rate Zones for a single Time of Use rate: it is possible to set your Default Electricity Cost to stand in for it, as the Default Cost applies to any gaps not covered by your Rate Zones. If you don’t create, for example, Rate Zones for the two Super Off Peak periods above, the Default Cost will automatically fill in those periods. However, while this may make rate entry easier, it does have some drawbacks:

  • You will not receive alerts when you transition into a period where Default Cost applies
  • Default Cost will not remain frozen in time for a particular period, like a Rate Zone will. Changing your Default Cost will change it historically for all of your Sense cost history.

While this example rate plan applies all days of the week, many have some variance on the weekend, so be sure to set your rates accordingly.

Lastly, we can set our desired behavior for alerts and set these Rate Zones to recur in the following year. Many Time of Use plans may change rates year-to-year, but schedules tend to remain the same. If you set your Rate Zones to recur, you won’t need to re-enter your schedule next year.

When your Rate Zones end, they’ll be moved to the Historic Rate Zones section. Any Rate Zones you set that are not yet active will show in the Future Rate Zones section. Your recurring Rate Zones will not show in Future Rate Zones until the active Rate Zone has ended.

The Summer rates for this plan are even simpler. From June 1 to September 30, Sunday to Saturday, we have to create Rate Zones for the following periods, with a cost of 7¢ for Off Peak and 20¢ for On peak.

  1. Off Peak – 12am-12pm
  2. On Peak – 12pm-9pm
  3. Off Peak – 9pm-12am
tou-electricity info

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.