When Texas went into energy conservation mode last week, energy companies say they adjust some customers’ thermostats due to grid conditions. Residents noticed their thermostat changing on its own. TXU Energy confirmed to media that its Demand Response Program can remotely change thermostats by a few degrees when the power grid is being maxed out. Though tens of thousands of customers participate in the type of plans where electric companies can remotely change a thermostat, it was unclear how many homes had thermostats changed.
Some consumers say they weren’t aware they had opted into programs granting their energy provider control of their thermostats.
Electricity Companies in Houston Change Thermostats
In June, CenterPoint Energy in Houston also has certain remotely-controlled thermostat programs through EnergyHub… it is disguised as a “rewards program” known as Smart Savers Texas. Customers can opt into the program by allowing EnergyHub and their energy provider to remotely access your thermostat to make adjustments at times of peak electricity demand in the summer. While customers agree to this as a conservation tool, they can usually override the demand response event depending on their plan. Though, not always!
Shady Electricity Companies
To lure customers, EnergyHub advertises that when a customer opts in to the program, they are entered into a $5,000 sweepstakes. Customers have to have a so-called smart thermostat, such as Nest, that is connected to the internet. EnergyHub says temperature adjustments typically happen on weekdays from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm, but may extend outside of that time window for system testing or rare emergency conditions. Customers are supposed to be able to opt out of the program at any time, but some customers say they weren’t aware they were signed up.
Again, Energy Companies?
Last summer, energy customers said they found out about their enrollment in a remote access program when they woke up to warm temperatures at home. TikTok users posted videos showing smart thermostats registering an “Energy Rush Hour” alert. The temperatures went up to 83 degrees inside homes and would not revert to user-operated settings for hours after the provider-mandated intervention.
The customers weren’t aware they were enrolled in a remotely-controlled program, and many unenrolled as soon as they found out.
High temps have strained the Texas power grid and electricity supply all summer
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a conservation appeal to all Texans last week asking homes and businesses to reduce their energy usage in the afternoon and early evening. ERCOT also asked Texans to conserve energy this week too. Demand was on the same level as the supply, but no rolling blackouts were reported.
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