Some Texans have been shocked to find their smart thermostats were raised remotely by power companies. Some said they didn’t know their thermostats were being accessed remotely by a third-party until it was almost 80 degrees inside their homes.
When Deer Park resident Brandon English got home from work on Wednesday, his house was hot.
“(My wife) had it cranked it down at 2:30,” English said. “It takes a long time for this house to get cool when it gets that hot.”
English’s wife and their daughters decided to take their afternoon nap earlier in the day.
“They’d been asleep long enough that the house had already gotten to 78 degrees,” English said. “So they woke up sweating.”
Without anyone touching it, they said their thermostat was changed while they were sleeping, making their home unbearably hot.
“Was my daughter at the point of overheating?” English said. “She’s 3 months old. They dehydrate very quickly.”
His wife received an alert on her phone soon after that. The family said their thermostat had been changed remotely, raising the temperature of their home during a three-hour “energy saving event.”
The family’s smart thermostat was installed a few years ago as part of a new home security package. Many smart thermostats can be enrolled in a program called “Smart Savers Texas.” It’s operated by a company called EnergyHub.
The agreement states that in exchange for an entry into sweepstakes, electric customers allow them to control their thermostats during periods of high energy demand. EnergyHub’s list of its clients include TXU Energy, CenterPoint and ERCOT.
MacDailyNews Take: Programs like these that allow third-party remote control of smart thermostats are reportedly running in several U.S. states. Here we have yet another example of “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Read the fine print.