Russia Blocks U.N. Move to Treat Climate as Security Threat

The Russian veto of a widely supported Security Council resolution pointed to the difficulty of achieving a unified response to global warming.

‘Whales, Sea Turtles and Other Animals Shouldn’t Have to Suffer and Die From Entanglements’: Conservation Group Seeks Federal Help

Oakland conservation group the Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to require trap fisheries to convert from traditional crab fishing gear to new ropeless or “pop-up” gear in all United States waters within the next five years.


The old gear has led to many entanglements and injuries of endangered whales and sea turtles.

“In 2018 alone more than 100 large whales — including critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and Pacific humpback whales — were reported entangled in fishing gear in the United States. This is likely only a fraction of the actual number of animals of all kinds seriously injured or die in fishing gear, since most entanglements go unobserved,” said the Center for Biological Diversity in a press release.

Most entanglements of marine animals occur because of traps that use ropes that run from a buoy on the water’s surface to traps on the ocean floor. “Pop-up traps use lift bags or buoys on coiled ropes triggered by remote or time-release sensors to float the traps to the surface, eliminating those static vertical lines,” the press release said.

“[O]ther versions use metal gadgets that dissolve in water over time and allow the line to bob to the surface,” reported Tara Duggan of the San Francisco Chronicle.

As ocean conditions have been affected by climate change, entanglements of marine life have increased “in nearly all regions,” according to the press release. “Warming waters, for example, can shift the distribution of prey, forcing whales to look for food in areas that increase the overlap between the animals and fishing gear.”

State and federal agencies have been sued by the Center for Biological Diversity for allowing entanglements of endangered whales and sea turtles, which violates the Endangered Species Act.

“Crab and lobster fishers are still using 19th century technologies despite new alternatives that could eliminate entanglements in buoy lines. But change isn’t going to happen on its own, so our petition seeks a deadline to convert to ropeless gear,” commented oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, Kristen Monsell, in the press release.

The federal petition is directed at the Dungeness crab fishery in California, the lobster fishery in New England and the Gulf of Mexico’s stone crab fishery, among others. If accepted, the petition would take “a few years” to be put into effect, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. If it’s rejected, the decision could be challenged in court.

Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Marine Mammal Center Michael Moore said “the three- to five-year timeline was ‘reasonable and doable,’” reported Doug Fraser of the Cape Cod Times. “He hoped it would give a sense of urgency to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which he said has worked steadily to advance and test the technology.”

Fishing groups feel that pop-up gear is “too expensive and not yet ready for commercial use for Dungeness crab,” Duggan of the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The petition contends that legally requiring the use of ropeless gear would encourage technological advancements and investments that would lower the cost.

“What hasn’t happened is the investment of time, money and knowledge from the federal government to make (widespread deployment) happen,” Moore said, as reported by the Cape Cod Times. “They are really on board, but there needs to be a quantum leap from traps in the water to full-blown industrial scale deployment with a regulated and standardized system.”

“Whales, sea turtles and other animals shouldn’t have to suffer and die from entanglements,” said Monsell in the press release. “Not when there’s a technological fix. Ropeless fishing gear promises to help whales and fisheries by making a more productive ocean.”

SolarCity: Reviews, Lawsuits & Tesla Acquisition

SolarCity began in 2006 as a residential and commercial solar provider, manufacturing and installing its own solar panels and equipment. The company was headquartered in Fremont, California, before being purchased by Tesla Inc. in 2016 for $2.6 billion.

SolarCity was widely considered one of the best solar companies in the years leading up to 2016, often finding itself in the limelight due to its ambitious technology, high-profile installations and close proximity to Tesla’s eccentric CEO, Elon Musk, who served on SolarCity’s board before the acquisition. SolarCity was co-founded by Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive, Musk’s cousins.

Even since the acquisition, SolarCity’s name has peppered news articles and social media sites in stories citing whistleblowers and defective products. But what happened to SolarCity? Is it still in business as a subsidiary of Tesla?

In this article, we’ll discuss the history of SolarCity, its products and services, Tesla’s 2016 acquisition and the investigations into the company as they stand today. For more information about Tesla’s current solar offerings, click here. Or, if you want to get a free quote from a local installer to compare with Tesla, you can start using this tool or the form below.

SolarCity Products & Services

So, what made SolarCity stand out in its heyday? The company specialized in high-volume installations of power purchase agreements (PPAs), popularizing a door-to-door solar sales structure similar to those in use today by companies like Sunrun. In addition to its installations, SolarCity manufactured a number of cutting-edge products such as advanced rooftop solar panels, a prototype for solar shingles and more.

Let’s take a closer look at SolarCity’s products and services.

SolarCity Products

Solar Panels: SolarCity’s panels were at one point among the most efficient solar panels on the market, topping even industry leader SunPower in 2015. Tesla continues to focus heavily on powerful solar panels, having recently unveiled 420- to 430-watt modules.

Electric Vehicle Chargers: A match perfect for Tesla, SolarCity’s EV chargers hit the market around 2010. Tesla planned to bridge the gap between SolarCity and Tesla Motors with its EV chargers that run on solar energy, a big part of its master plan to become a sustainable energy conglomerate.

Solar Roof: Though just a prototype at the time, SolarCity’s solar roof technology allowed homeowners to install solar shingles that appear no different from a conventional roof, yet generate electricity the same way as solar panels. This idea evolved into Tesla’s current Solar Roof tiles.

SolarCity Services

Energy Efficiency Upgrades: SolarCity offered energy efficiency audits, upgrades and technology along with its solar systems through partnerships with home energy firms.

Commercial Solar Installations: SolarCity completed a number of high-profile commercial solar projects spanning from eBay’s headquarters to Intel campuses.

SolarCity Power Purchase Agreements

A PPA is similar to a solar lease, wherein a solar company installs solar panels on your roof but retains ownership of the panels. In a PPA, you purchase the power those panels generate from the solar company at a fixed monthly rate. Most PPA contracts ensure that PPA customers will pay less per month than they were spending with their local utility company.

SolarCity deployed a widespread network of door-to-door sales representatives pitching solar PPAs to great success in the early 2010s. In 2015, a year before the acquisition, SolarCity was the leading national residential solar contractor, according to Solar Power World.

SolarCity Reviews

SolarCity’s old reviews offer a good glimpse into what went wrong. Early positive reviews mention the easy process of signing a solar PPA, while negative reviews cover poor customer service and expensive products as the company began to struggle.

Positive SolarCity Reviews

As mentioned, solar leases and PPAs allowed SolarCity to expand as quickly as it did within the residential solar market. For a few years, SolarCity led the nation in volume of residential solar installations. Here’s what one happy customer had to say in a 2014 SolarCity power purchase agreement review:

“Why pay for electricity when you can use the sun!? I got a lease program for my house in Pomona through SolarCity. Couldn’t be happier! Permitting was annoying, but that’s reasonable (psh, government and all). Anyway, 10/10 would recommend.” — Tom via Trustpilot

Negative SolarCity Reviews

The company’s ambitious pace of growth was ultimately its downfall. As reflected in the majority of SolarCity reviews, customer service struggled while prices soared in order to save the company’s slimming bottom line.

“I’ve never seen such pitiful customer service in my lifetime. Rude, condescending, and downright worthless with their help or concern. Had we known this originally, we would have never had Tesla/SolarCity come anywhere near our home. Being the biggest may have its advantages, but it all falls apart when your customer service is as lacking as it is at SolarCity.” — William via Yelp

“In summary, we were interested in going solar, but SolarCity’s pushy sales team and unacceptable behavior have turned us off from ever going with them. Their proposal was also much more expensive than other companies such as Sunrun, Sungevity or SunPower. I would not suggest getting your solar through SolarCity.” — Brad via Yelp

SolarCity Acquisition

As far as the story of SolarCity goes, this is where it ends. SolarCity entered 2016 crippled with debt and struggling to turn a profit. Its val
ue was near all-time lows. Tesla stepped in and purchased SolarCity in 2016 for a sum of $2.6 billion.

To Tesla, the acquisition of SolarCity made sense due to its low valuation, a mission that aligned with Tesla’s and an opportunity to become “the world’s only vertically integrated sustainable energy company.”

Tesla, which also manufactured solar storage technology at the time (the Tesla Powerwall 1 was unveiled in 2015), could now sell and install electric cars, EV chargers, solar panels and energy storage systems, interconnected under one corporate brand.

SolarCity Investigations

Though 85% of Tesla shareholders approved of the acquisition at the time, a few red flags waved in the years following it. In one instance, Walmart reported seven separate fires that began from poorly installed Tesla panels in 2019.

Most recently, a whistleblower stepped forward after claiming he was let go from Tesla last year for raising safety concerns after the acquisition. The SEC complaint read “Tesla and SolarCity, which it acquired in 2016, did not disclose its ‘liability and exposure to property damage, risk of injury of users, fire, etc. to shareholders’ prior and after the acquisition.” As of December 6, 2021, Reuters reports that the SEC has opened a probe into this aspect of the acquisition.

It didn’t help that the owners of SolarCity were relatives of Elon Musk, who was also a board member for SolarCity prior to the acquisition. Musk had to appear in court to defend the acquisition at one point during a separate lawsuit by shareholders who saw the purchase as more of a bailout.

To make a long story short, a number of questions emerged surrounding Musk’s true intent with the purchase, whether he misled shareholders as to the value of SolarCity and if Tesla products built with SolarCity’s influence are as safe as they claim.

Tesla Solar

Since the acquisition in 2016, the SolarCity brand has no longer been used; it now operates as Tesla Solar. SolarCity’s technology has evolved into the products we see offered by Tesla today. The most notable products include solar panels, EV chargers, the Tesla Solar Roof and the Tesla Powerwall 2.

Though Tesla’s solar panel sales haven’t flourished in the years following the messy SolarCity deal, its storage technology sets the industry standard for the best solar batteries. Tesla Powerwalls are flying off the shelves; the company can’t meet the mounting demand, resulting in months-long waitlists for its products.

As far as the investigations are concerned, analysts say that SolarCity remains a small part of Tesla’s overall clean energy and automotive operations, and the overall impact of any investigations could be limited.

If you’re looking for the best solar companies operating today, SolarCity is a dead end. If you’re interested in the recent history of solar and the companies that shaped it, however, SolarCity is a fascinating case study.

Frequently Asked Questions: SolarCity

Is SolarCity still in business?

SolarCity, as an entity, is no longer in business. Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016 for $2.6 billion and reorganized its business as Tesla Solar.

Is SolarCity now Tesla?

SolarCity and its technology, resources and staff are now Tesla Solar. Tesla continues to grow within the renewable energy industry and is annually ranked among the best solar companies in the country.

What went wrong with SolarCity?

In short, SolarCity was not turning a profit and had invested too much of its capital to repay its debts. At one point, SolarCity began offering its customers solar bonds in order to woo investment. SolarCity claimed these bonds were to spread awareness about clean energy. In any case, SolarCity extended itself too far at an opportune time for Tesla to purchase it.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

Deadly Tornadoes Devastate Kentucky, Hit Seven Other States

At least 50 tornadoes across eight states, destroyed homes and businesses and likely killed more than 100 people Friday night.


Tornadoes were reported in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee, as well as Kentucky where the devastation was most severe. “I’ve got towns that are gone — that are just, I mean, gone,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told CNN. “I mean you go door-to-door to check on people … There are no doors.”

About 75% of Dawson Springs was wiped out, its mayor said. Beshear told NBC the high death toll risked overwhelming available space in morgues.

There is increasing evidence linking climate change to the severe weather that gives rise to tornadoes and emerging research suggests there may be a link between warming and large tornado outbreaks, particularly in the southeast U.S. in the winter months.

“Last night was one of the most shocking weather events in my 40 years as a meteorologist — a violent tornado (in December!) drawing comparisons to the deadliest and longest-tracking tornado in U.S. history,” tweeted Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and extreme weather expert.

Additionally, Tornado Alley is shifting east, away from Kansas and Oklahoma toward the states hit Friday night. “This is going to be our new normal,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell told CNN. “The effects we are seeing of climate change are the crisis of our generation.”

President Biden approved an emergency disaster declaration for Kentucky on Saturday.

For a deeper dive:

Destruction: CNN, The Washington Post, Lexington Herald-Leader, The New York Times, NBC, Black Wall Street Times, Reuters, Axios, Reuters, FT, Gizmodo, Axios, POLITICO; Climate links: AP, explainer, The Washington Post, NBC, Yale Climate Connections; Criswell: CNN; Photos: The Washington Post, Axios; TV: NBC, NBC, ABC, ABC, NBC, CBS, NBC, CBS, NBC, ABC; Climate Signals background: Tornado risk increase

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks December 13-14, Here’s How to See It

The Geminid meteor shower, one of the most reliable and active meteor showers of the year, will peak on the night of December 13 into the early morning of December 14. The Geminids display can produce over 100 meteors per hour under ideal conditions.

“The Geminids, which stem in name from the constellation Gemini, are a meteor shower caused by the rock comet 3200 Phaethon, which is thought to be a Palladian asteroid with a ‘rock comet’ orbit,” reported Scott Gleeson of USA Today. “The Geminids are one of the only major meteor showers not originating from a comet.”


About 10 to 15 meteors per hour will begin to be visible just after dark and will increase as the night goes on. This year, the gibbous moon will be bright earlier in the evening, but viewers will have an opportunity to see more shooting stars after it sets.

“The best hourly rates (around 40) will be seen just after moonset around 2 a.m. local time [wherever you are],” Robert Lunsford, editor of the American Meteor Society journal, told AccuWeather.

If you’d prefer not to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, “the evening hours are the best time to try to catch an earthgrazer,” reported Deborah Byrd and Kelly Kizer Whitt of EarthSky.

“An earthgrazer is a slooow-moving, looong-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky. Earthgrazers are rarely seen but prove to be especially memorable, if you should be lucky enough to catch one,” Byrd and Whitt wrote.

The Geminids’ radiant point is near the constellation Gemini, but the meteors can be seen in any part of the sky. Focusing on a darker section, away from the moon, is recommended. A bonus with the Geminids is that they can produce meteors of different colors, depending on the elements they’re made of.

“As the meteors burn up while entering Earth’s atmosphere, the different elements emit different colors. Some shooting stars can even feature multiple colors,” Brian Lada of AccuWeather reported.

“Strong showers such as the Geminids and Perseids offer a better opportunity of seeing colorful meteors only because there are more of them over the entire brightness range to be seen,” wrote Lunsford.

Geminids “meteors burn up in the upper atmosphere some 60 miles (100 km) above Earth’s surface,” Byrd and Whitt reported.

It will be the first time much of the eastern U.S. will see clear conditions during the Geminids meteor shower since 2014.

“Watching for 30 minutes or more will provide a better view of the overall activity,” Lunsford said. “Meteor [showers] have peaks and valleys of activity. If you watch for only 15 minutes, you may be viewing during one of the lulls of activity and see very little.”

The Geminids meteor shower will also be viewable from indoors beginning at nine p.m. ET, as “NASA will livestream the night sky through its meteor camera at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama,” Gleeson reported.

The Ursid meteor shower will provide an additional sky show, with its peak on December 21, the night of the winter solstice, into December 22. The Ursids “typically [feature] around 10 meteors per hour,” Lada reported. “This is followed up by the Quadrantids on the night of Jan. 2 into Jan. 3, which can spark over 20 meteors per hour.”

Looking for a Way to Soup Up Your Car? Go Electric.

It may not be cheap, but swapping the combustion engine in your car for an electric one is getting easier.
Posted in Uncategorized

NASA to Launch 4 Earth Science Missions in 2022

In Brief:

The missions, including two led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will help monitor our changing planet. Scientists will discuss them at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting.

NASA will launch four Earth science missions in 2022 to provide scientists with more information about fundamental climate systems and processes, including extreme storms, surface water and ocean, and atmospheric dust. Scientists will discuss the upcoming missions at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) 2021 Fall Meeting, hosted in New Orleans between Dec. 13 and 17.

NASA has a unique view of our planet from space. NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites provide high-quality data on Earth’s interconnected environment, from air quality to sea ice.

These four missions will enhance the ability to monitor our changing planet:

  • TROPICS will use six small satellites to provide improved and rapid measurements of tropical cyclones.
  • EMIT will trace the origin and composition of mineral dust that can affect climate, ecosystems, air quality, and human health with an imaging spectrometer aboard the International Space Station.
  • NOAA’s JPSS-2 will help scientists predict extreme weather conditions, including floods, wildfires, volcanoes, and more.
  • SWOT will evaluate the world’s ocean and their role in climate change, as well as monitor lakes, rivers, and other surface waters.
NASA has a unique view of our planet from space. NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites provide high quality data on different parts of Earth’s interconnected environment from air quality to sea ice. Take a tour of missions launching in 2022, including SWOT, TROPICS, EMIT, and JPSS-2. Credit: NASA

Measuring Tropical Cyclones

Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS)

Tropics
The TROPICS Pathfinder satellite, pictured above, was launched on June 29. The satellite body measures approximately 10 cm X 10 cm X 36 cm and is identical to the six additional satellites that will be launched in the constellation in 2022. The golden cube at the top is the microwave radiometer, which measures the precipitation, temperature, and humidity inside tropical storms. Credits: Blue Canyon Technologies

NASA’s TROPICS mission aims to improve observations of tropical cyclones. Six TROPICS satellites will work in concert to provide microwave observations of a storm's precipitation, temperature, and humidity as quickly as every 50 minutes. Scientists expect the data will help them understand the factors driving tropical cyclone intensification and will contribute to weather forecasting models.

In June 2021, the first pathfinder, or proof of concept, satellite of the constellation started collecting data, including from Hurricane Ida in August 2021, that shows the promise of these small satellites. The TROPICS satellites will be deployed in pairs of two over three different launches, expected to be completed by July 31, 2022.

Each satellite is about the size of a loaf of bread and carries a miniaturized microwave radiometer instrument. Traveling in pairs in three different orbits, they will collectively observe Earth’s surface more frequently than current weather satellites making similar measurements, greatly increasing the data available for near real-time weather forecasts.

The TROPICS team is led by Principal Investigator Dr. William Blackwell at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, and includes researchers from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and several universities and commercial partners. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will manage the launch service.

“The coolest part of this program is its impact on helping society,” Blackwell said. “These storms affect a lot of people. The higher frequency observations provided by TROPICS have the potential to support weather forecasting that may help people get to safety sooner.”

Studying Mineral Dust

Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT)

Winds kick up dust from Earth’s arid regions and transport the mineral particles around the world. The dust can influence the radiative forcing – or the balance between the energy that comes toward Earth from the Sun, and the energy that Earth reflects back out into space – hence the temperature of the planet’s surface and atmosphere. Darker, iron-laden minerals tend to absorb energy, which leads to heating of the environment, while brighter, clay-containing particles scatter light in a way that may lead to cooling. In addition to affecting regional and global warming of the atmosphere, dust can affect air quality and the health of people worldwide, and when deposited in the ocean, can also trigger blooms of microscopic algae.

The goal of the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) mission is to map where the dust originates and estimate its composition so that scientists can better understand how it affects the planet. Targeted to launch in 2022, EMIT has a prime mission of one year and will be installed on the International Space Station. EMIT will use an instrument called an imaging spectrometer that measures visible and infrared light reflecting from surfaces below. This data can reveal the distinct light-absorbing signatures of the minerals in the dust that helps to determine its composition.

“EMIT will close a gap in our knowledge about arid land regions of our planet and answer key questions about how mineral dust interacts with the Earth system,” said Dr. Robert Green, EMIT principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Observing Earth’s Storms

Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)

Dust
In June 2020, the "Godzilla" dust storm traveled from the Sahara desert across the Atlantic Ocean, as seen in this true color satellite imagery from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite and the NOAA-20 satellite. Credits: NASA / Scientific Visualization Studio

Forecasting extreme storms many days in advance requires capturing precise measurements of the temperature and moisture in our atmosphere, along with ocean surface temperatures. The NOAA-NASA Joint Polar Satellite System satellites provide this critical data, which is used by forecasters and first responders. The satellites also tell us about floods, wildfires, volcanoes, smog, dust storms, and sea ice.

“JPSS satellites are a vital component of the global backbone of numerical weather prediction,” said JPSS Program Science Adviser Dr. Satya Kalluri.

The JPSS satellites circle Earth from the North to the South Pole, taking data and images as they fly. As Earth rotates under these satellites, they observe every part of the planet at least twice a day.

The Suomi-NPP (National Polar orbiting-Partnership) and NOAA-20 satellites are currently in orbit. The JPSS-2 satellite is targeted to launch in 2022 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Three more satellites will launch in coming years, providing data well into the 2030s. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will manage the launch service.

Surveying Earth’s Surface Water

Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT)

The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission will help researchers determine how much water Earth’s ocean, lakes, and rivers contain. This will aid scientists in understanding the effects of climate change on freshwater bodies and the ocean’s ability to absorb excess heat and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will manage the launch service, which is targeted for November 2022. SWOT will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The SUV-size satellite will measure the height of water using its Ka-band Radar Interferometer, a new instrument that bounces radar pulses off the water’s surface and receives the return signals with two different antennas at the same time. This measurement technique allows scientists to precisely calculate the height of the water. The data will help with tasks like tracking regional shifts in sea level, monitoring changes in river flows and how much water lakes store, as well as determining how much freshwater is available to communities around the world.

“SWOT will address the ocean’s leading role in our changing weather and climate and the consequences on the availability of freshwater on land,” said Dr. Lee-Lueng Fu, SWOT project scientist at JPL.

The mission is a collaboration between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency and the United Kingdom Space Agency.

News Media Contacts

Jane J. Lee / Ian J. O’Neill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-0307 / 818-354-2649
jane.j.lee@jpl.nasa.gov / ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

Chemical companies tout green credentials whilst developing hazardous chemicals behind closed doors

Chemical companies around the world are actively marketing their greener, more sustainable products, whilst holding back details on the mass production of hazardous chemicals, ChemSec’s ranking of chemical companies reveals.

Posted in Uncategorized

Global Central Banks Diverge as Omicron Clouds Growth, Inflation Outlook

Central banks in the U.S., the U.K. and the eurozone are set to provide guidance this week on future interest rates. They are expected to move at different speeds, reflecting varying responses to the pandemic and divergent outlooks.

Posted in Uncategorized

2022 Sense Energy Monitor Review: What to Know Before Buying

An energy monitor provides detailed information about your home’s power consumption, equipping you to make informed energy-efficiency decisions. The Sense energy monitor allows users to track real-time consumption of the entire home, even down to individual appliances.

With an energy monitor like Sense, you can pinpoint energy sinks in your home and make decisions to become more efficient and save money on power bills. Plus, if you have a home solar system, you can monitor your solar panel power output.

But is this smart home energy monitor the best on the market? Let’s take a deep dive into Sense.


How Does the Sense Home Energy Monitor Work?

The Sense energy monitor uses machine learning to detect individual devices and appliances by identifying their electrical signals. Sense tracks the energy usage of these devices and sends the information to its smartphone app via built-in Wi-Fi, giving you on-demand, real-time usage data.

Sense is proven to be 99.5% accurate, compiling millions of measurements every second to provide useful, up-to-the-minute data about your home’s and appliances’ energy consumption. Sense also identifies trends by day, week, month and billing cycle to demystify nebulous electric bills and show you ways you can save. The monitor can help you along in your journey toward energy efficiency, setting targets by device, day or month, and in watts or dollars.

But Sense does more than put data about your home’s energy usage within your grasp. It allows you to see which devices are on and which are off, such as if the garage door opens, the downstairs clothes dryer is done or you left your oven on. If it’s raining cats and dogs, you can tell immediately if your sump pump is working, sparing a potential disaster. And it does all of this remotely, sending information to your smart device wherever you are, from the loo to Timbuktu.

Installation

Sense plugs directly into your home’s circuit breaker box, where it takes up inconspicuous residence to work its magic. Installing the Sense home energy monitor is a straightforward process that usually takes less than 30 minutes for a licensed electrician to complete (Sense highly recommends homeowners hire a professional for the job).

If you’re confident in your electrical skills or just want to know how installation works, here are the steps:

  1. Turn off the main breaker and remove the electric panel cover.
  2. Place the Sense monitor inside or outside of the electric panel.
  3. Feed the antenna through the panel and into monitor ports.
  4. Clamp the sensors around the two electrical mains, then connect sensors to the Sense monitor.
  5. Connect Sense’s power cables to an unused but live 240V breaker.
  6. Close the panel and turn the main back on.
  7. Install the app and set up an account.

If you are comfortable doing the above, you don’t need anything but a screwdriver to install Sense. If you don’t have an unused 240V breaker, you will need to install one. If you have any doubts, hire a professional.

How Sense Monitors Energy Use and Appliances

Most electronic devices have a unique way they use electricity. Sense takes information on wattage, electrical resistance and other signals, combining them into a cohesive electronic signature used to identify individual devices.

Sense detects many common household appliances such as light bulbs, toasters, washers and dryers, entertainment systems, computers, ovens, water heaters, fridges and more. It can also monitor two 120V or 240V circuits directly and, with optional Flex add-on sensors, can monitor large loads and critical devices like HVAC systems, electric vehicle chargers or pumps.

Does an Energy Monitor Save You Money?

A monitor alone won’t save you money, but changing your habits will. All that the Sense Home Energy Monitor does is provide accurate electricity usage data to help you identify energy inefficiency, make informed decisions and track your progress toward energy reduction goals.

An energy monitor is a great way to discover power-hungry appliances that may be perniciously stealing energy. This may be a device that you forgot to turn off, an always-on appliance that consumes more electricity than you’d expect or something that isn’t operating properly. Such energy hogs can easily go unnoticed but will show up loud and clear with a monitor like Sense.

Sense reports its average user saves 9% on electric bills. Given the average monthly electric bill is $117, or $1,400 per year, Sense saves the average homeowner $126 annually and will pay for itself in about two and a half years.

Using Sense With Your Solar Power System

Sense Solar provides information to optimize solar energy use. The Sense Solar energy monitor offers the same advantages of the base unit, plus other perks specifically tailored to sun-powered electricity, including:

  • Real-time and historical solar production readings contrasted versus usage, so you know when to use heavy-load devices or decrease consumption
  • Net metering data
  • How much energy you pull from the grid versus produce with your panels

If you don’t have a solar monitoring app available from your solar installer or manufacturer, Sense Solar is a great third-party add-on to keep track of the amount of energy your panels produce.

Sense Energy Monitor Reviews

This all may sound great, but what do actual customers have to say about the smart home device’s longevity and ease of use?

The Sense Home Energy Monitor has a 4.3 out of 5-star Amazon rating with over 2,000 reviews. The Sense app has a 3.4 out of 5-star Google Play Store rating with ‎454 reviews and an App Store rating of 4.1 out of 5 with 256 reviews.

Positive Sense Energy Monitor Reviews

Customers love Sense’s real-time, accurate data helping them make effective decisions to increase their home energy efficiency. Here’s what happy customers are saying in Sense energy monitor reviews:

“I love technology, but this has exceeded my expectations. It was very easy to install, and in 15 minutes, I knew exactly how many watts my home was using… I purchased this to understand my daily energy usage, as I was upgrading my portable emergency generator but really didn’t know where to begin in calculating every plug, refrigerator, freezer, light bulb in my home. This was perfect for knowing exactly what I needed.” — Dan Wood via Amazon

“The fact that it can recognize the change as soon as it happens and reports it goes a long way in understanding the inefficient appliances in your home. Whether it’s bulbs or old appliances it’ll measure it as precisely as anything out there.” — Taiwo E. Egun via Amazon

Negative Sense Energy Monitor Reviews

There are a few naysayers, though. Some folks have found Sense to have issues with device detection and consistent monitoring:

“Very disappointed. Really was hoping this unit would give a better breakdown of my power usage. We’ve had it for 14 months now and over 50% of all our power usage is still not being tracked.” — April Hope via Amazon

“While this product seems to be an answer to energy conservation, it does not live up to its potential. When I had an electrician install it, the first few weeks were fun watching it detect various devices. However, the ability to manually label or add devices was a challenge. After 5 months, it still has not ‘detected’ our washer/dryer. On the timeline, it clearly shows a spike when those units are on, but you are unable to label those and need to wait for the system to detect it.” — ScubaSteve260 via Amazon

Is Sense the Best Home Energy Monitor for You?

The Sense energy monitor is a fantastic performer, giving accurate, instant information as broad as an entire house and narrow as individual appliances and devices. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you, particularly if budget is a primary concern. Starting at just under $300, Sense is definitely an investment, especially considering its competitors’ devices are usually half the price.

Sense is close to perfect, but not completely. Sense hasn’t successfully mapped every single device out there, meaning there may be an elusive anomaly of an appliance somewhere in your home that Sense can’t identify. Plus, some folks report inaccuracies even on common appliances like dishwashers.

But the naysayers are definitely the exception to the rule. The vast majority of customers agree that no other home energy monitor provides the pinpoint precision, accuracy and speed that Sense does. If you have the money and need for a powerhouse home energy monitor, Sense just makes sense.

​Sense Energy Monitor

The Sense Energy Monitor provides real-time, 24/7 data that is accessible through iOS, Android and desktop apps. That means you can check energy usage patterns whenever and wherever you like. Even better, schedules and alerts can be set to create a truly customized data system.

​Sense Solar

Like the Sense Energy Monitor, Sense Solar can track usage data in real-time. It can also track your appliances and devices on an individual basis to give you a more comprehensive window into your home’s energy consumption.

Christian Yonkers is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and outdoor junkie obsessed with the intersectionality between people and planet. He partners with brands and organizations with social and environmental impact at their core, assisting them in telling stories that change the world.