Texas homes heat up as power companies alter smart thermostats

Posted:
in General Discussion
Texas homeowners have discovered their homes are getting warmer despite the use of air conditioning, with the discovery that energy companies are remotely adjusting the thermostat to higher temperatures with minimal warning.




Residents in Houston and surrounding areas have complained that their thermostats have been increasing in temperature, seemingly on their own. Rather than keeping the house cool, the thermostats have been remotely tampered with to operate at a warmer temperature.

In one example aired by WFAA, the English family of Deer Park discovered such a situation on Wednesday. Brandon English returned home that day to discover his wife and daughters had lowered the temperature at 2:30pm, but it had been changed while they had a nap.

The house had risen in temperature to 78 degrees, English said, and that his wife and kids "woke up sweating." He was concerned about his three-month-old daughter potentially dehydrating from the heat in the unbearably hot home.

Later, his wife received an alert advising their thermostat was changed remotely as part of a three-hour "energy-saving event."

It was determined that the family's thermostat was enrolled into a program called "Smart Savers Texas," operated by EnergyHub. As part of an agreement, EnergyHub could remotely control the thermostat during a period of high energy demand, in exchange for entry into sweepstakes.

The changes occur during a period in the summer where homeowners are putting a strain on the power grid to keep their homes cool with air conditioning. On Wednesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas urged residents to raise their thermostats to reduce the strain on the power grid.

In a statement received by Gizmodo, EnergyHub said "During a demand response event, Smart Savers Texas increases the temperature on participating thermostats by up to four degrees to reduce energy consumption and relieve stress on the grid. Every participant actively agrees to the terms of the program and can opt-out of a demand response event at any time."

EnergyHub says it works with a number of smart thermostat vendors, including some that offer thermostats with HomeKit support. The list includes Ecobee, Honeywell, and Lux, as well as Google's Nest, which pledged support for the Apple-backed smart home protocol Matter in May, meaning HomeKit support for Nest thermostats is in development.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast -- and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, "Hey, Siri," to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple's Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.AppleInsider is also bringing you the best Apple-related deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021. There are bargains before, during, and even after Prime Day on June 21 and 22 -- with every deal at your fingertips throughout the event.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,637member
    Not altering their thermostat, they're simply applying an energy saver process that the customer allowed. Just cancel the program, reset your thermostat (was it actually an ecobee or something else?) and make sure only you have access to it. I don't believe ecobee can alter your thermostat without your consent so this isn't a nefarious attack, it's simply a customer not knowing what they signed up for.

    As for it being it Texas, that doesn't matter. I've seen these programs in California as well. Both these states are in a heat wave.
    Wgkruegerkiehtanxyzzy01d_2MplsPthtLeftyLisabaconstangwilliamlondonJaphey
  • Reply 2 of 47
    kiehtankiehtan Posts: 26member
    I live in MA and have opted into a similar program on my Ecobee Thermostat. On the rare occasion that the increased (or decreased in the winter) temperature adversely affects me, I turn the feature off. Not really a big deal. 
    Alex_Vwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 47
    I don't get the big story, it was an opt in program for doing SPECIFICALLY that.  Not something they didn't know they signed up for.  We have a similar program here in Arizona by APS (Cool Rewards).  You have to opt in and in return you get a free smart thermostat, a $50 credit for enrolling for each thermostat, and a $25 a year credit for each unit you have (I have a two unit system).  You can opt out anytime (of both the program and on a specific day).  They also alert you early in the day, and then again right before it goes in effect (at least I do with my Nest).  If you do opt out too many times (days), then you won't get offered into the program next year.  It is even available for Solar customers (which I am as I bought the Solar unit outright 4 years ago).  So while $50 doesn't seem like much, it basically pays for 1/6 of my total APS bill for the year!  On those days I usually just plan on going in the pool :). It is also all relative.  Typically I have my units set for 78F or so anyway.  So 4 degrees is 82F.  When it is 115F out (which we just broke a record by having 5 straight days 115F or over) 82F doesn't feel too bad!
    bageljoeyDean68baconstangbyronlwilliamlondonCloudTalkinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 47
    WgkruegerWgkrueger Posts: 329member
    So many unanswered questions. 

    We’re these participants seduced into entering this program by offering them a sweepstake prize or did they enter a sweepstake and the energy control was part of the fine print?

    Are thermostats currently under HomeKit allow for third party alteration or are these merely thermostats that could be HomeKit controlled but currently aren’t?

    Why does the Ecobee thermostat show it set to 72 degrees when the example home had theirs adjusted to 78 which would exceed the “by up to 4 degrees” limit?

    If I set my thermostat to 62, does that mean it would be reset to 66?

    Who in the world other than entitled rich people calls 78 degrees unbearably hot? 

    Why should we care that entitled rich people are sweating?
    BeatsLeftyLisaFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 47
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,525member
    This scares me. I didn’t know thermostats could be controlled by third-parties. So does everything HomeKit compatible work this way? Geez.

    This is the most absurdly dramatic and sensational article ever written… tampered? Please. Someone was sweating? Rough life.  Someone dehydrating in “unbearable” 78 degree heat? They upped the temp by four degrees… Christ on crutches. Just delete this and try again. So poorly written. 

    Wgkrueger said:

    Who in the world other than entitled rich people calls 78 degrees unbearably hot? 

    Why should we care that entitled rich people are sweating?

    This was Texas. Have you not lived in the south or an area with extreme heat? If your AC turns off and you’re in a far room away from the thermostat you’ll start sweating pretty quickly before the thermostat in the living room catches up to the heat. This problem needs to be solved.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 920member
    Beats said:
    This scares me. I didn’t know thermostats could be controlled by third-parties. So does everything HomeKit compatible work this way? Geez.
    "does everything HomeKit compatible work this way" no. Devices that allow remote control of, say, an air conditioner, could be potentially HomeKit compatible, but they could also be compatible with Google Home or Microsoft Windows or basically anything, that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    These consumers accepted "smart" wifi-enabled controllers for their a/c systems in exchange for a rebate or entry into a contest. The incentive for the electric utilities is that they can adjust the temperature when the grid is strained. This is kind of a good thing, although if the utilities were smart they would keep this sort of tampering to within 5º changes.

    The real scandal here is that the utilities are so badly run, and that they have to resort to this sort of nonsense to keep the power running while the executives give each other million dollar bonuses every year. The scandal is kleptocracy.
    thtbaconstangronnwilliamlondonchasmmuthuk_vanalingamcharlesatlasFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 47
    ackpfftackpfft Posts: 25member
    Wgkrueger said:
    So many unanswered questions. 

    Who in the world other than entitled rich people calls 78 degrees unbearably hot? 

    Why should we care that entitled rich people are sweating?
    My wife.
    thelastdondocbburkchasmFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 47
    The alternative in the worst case could be rolling blackouts. Demand response is a cost effective way to shave the peak load so that the utility can keep demand and supply in balance, and Martian the grid frequency at or near 60 Hz. These programs are to help protect the integrity of the power system, not cause headaches for individual consumers. And as the utility said, customers can opt out at any time. Some utilities even give credits for participating in their demand response programs. 

    Verbiage such as “tampered with”  makes it sound like a nefarious hacking event when it is not, it is to help keep supply and demand in balance. 
    elijahgphxhowardbaconstangdocno42FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 47
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,665member
    Beyond the fact that it’s opt in, the temp increased to a whopping 78 degrees?  That’s not comfortable for me, but it’s certainly not dangerous to anyone.  
    bluefire1jcs2305StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 47
    Beats said:
    This scares me. I didn’t know thermostats could be controlled by third-parties. So does everything HomeKit compatible work this way? Geez.

    This is the most absurdly dramatic and sensational article ever written… tampered? Please. Someone was sweating? Rough life.  Someone dehydrating in “unbearable” 78 degree heat? They upped the temp by four degrees… Christ on crutches. Just delete this and try again. So poorly written. 

    Wgkrueger said:

    Who in the world other than entitled rich people calls 78 degrees unbearably hot? 

    Why should we care that entitled rich people are sweating?

    This was Texas. Have you not lived in the south or an area with extreme heat? If your AC turns off and you’re in a far room away from the thermostat you’ll start sweating pretty quickly before the thermostat in the living room catches up to the heat. This problem needs to be solved.
    This has nothing to do with HomeKit. The thermostats that are in question are connected to the internet and and can be controlled via apps. None of that requires HomeKit. Where I live (in Texas) the utility company will provide you a credit if you buy a qualifying thermostat and as part of getting the credit you grant them access to control the temperature if they need to. None of which has anything to do with HomeKit. 
  • Reply 11 of 47
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,171member
    So people entered an agreement with their utility company and the agreement was followed. AI with the hard hitting journalism…. How is this even a story. 

    Well I kinda think this was hidden in the fine print and yeah well everyone reads the fine print. That being said I think this has brought light to those who are also in this program and are having similar experiences. At least they know why and how to resolve it. 

    On a different note, maybe Texas should be investing their time and money into a more robust power grid if they want to be on their own and not on some stupid border wall they don't need. Did they not learn anything from earlier this year?
    edited June 20 MplsPmbenz1962baconstangsconosciutoronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 47
    LOL 78 degrees is unberarably hot? I'm on board with the premise of the article but what a bucnh of drama queens
    thtLeftyLisatokyojimucharlesatlasStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 47
    macxpress said:
    So people entered an agreement with their utility company and the agreement was followed. AI with the hard hitting journalism…. How is this even a story. 

    Well I kinda think this was hidden in the fine print and yeah well everyone reads the fine print. That being said I think this has brought light to those who are also in this program and are having similar experiences. At least they know why and how to resolve it. 

    On a different note, maybe Texas should be investing their time and money into a more robust power grid if they want to be on their own and not on some stupid border wall they don't need. Did they not learn anything from earlier this year?
    So, I live in Texas and while I can’t speak to the specific program that is mentioned in this article I can say that they are in no way unique to the Houston area. I’m currently enrolled in one. Do I know that because I took the time to read the fine print? No. The entire point of these programs is to allow the energy provider to manage usage at peak times. You literally have to provide them the information on how to access your specific thermostat. How one gets through all of that without knowing the signed up for it is beyond me as it’s the whole point of the thing. 

    As for the Texas power grid, you are incorrect. Texas should connect to the national power grid and give up the inane idea of going alone. But instead the National Laboratory For Bad Government (the Texas Legislature) decided it should use it’s time to restrict women’s access to health care, attack trans kids and do it’s best to keep people from voting. Seriously, the border wall is pretty low on their list of bad idea. 
  • Reply 14 of 47
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,714member
    This kind of shit is why I don't trust smart devices.  Invite a device to be smart and it'll find a way to be stupid.  I can be stupid on my own thanks.
    Beatsjcs2305
  • Reply 15 of 47
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,525member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    Beats said:
    This scares me. I didn’t know thermostats could be controlled by third-parties. So does everything HomeKit compatible work this way? Geez.
    "does everything HomeKit compatible work this way" no. Devices that allow remote control of, say, an air conditioner, could be potentially HomeKit compatible, but they could also be compatible with Google Home or Microsoft Windows or basically anything, that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    These consumers accepted "smart" wifi-enabled controllers for their a/c systems in exchange for a rebate or entry into a contest. The incentive for the electric utilities is that they can adjust the temperature when the grid is strained. This is kind of a good thing, although if the utilities were smart they would keep this sort of tampering to within 5º changes.

    The real scandal here is that the utilities are so badly run, and that they have to resort to this sort of nonsense to keep the power running while the executives give each other million dollar bonuses every year. The scandal is kleptocracy.

    Talk about missing the point.

    I thought only the user had access to their smart devices. The fact 3rd parties can control them is scary.

    I would post examples but use your own imagination if you’re gonna dismiss a point so easily.
  • Reply 16 of 47
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,525member
    Beats said:
    This scares me. I didn’t know thermostats could be controlled by third-parties. So does everything HomeKit compatible work this way? Geez.

    This is the most absurdly dramatic and sensational article ever written… tampered? Please. Someone was sweating? Rough life.  Someone dehydrating in “unbearable” 78 degree heat? They upped the temp by four degrees… Christ on crutches. Just delete this and try again. So poorly written. 

    Wgkrueger said:

    Who in the world other than entitled rich people calls 78 degrees unbearably hot? 

    Why should we care that entitled rich people are sweating?

    This was Texas. Have you not lived in the south or an area with extreme heat? If your AC turns off and you’re in a far room away from the thermostat you’ll start sweating pretty quickly before the thermostat in the living room catches up to the heat. This problem needs to be solved.
    This has nothing to do with HomeKit. The thermostats that are in question are connected to the internet and and can be controlled via apps. None of that requires HomeKit. Where I live (in Texas) the utility company will provide you a credit if you buy a qualifying thermostat and as part of getting the credit you grant them access to control the temperature if they need to. None of which has anything to do with HomeKit. 

    So if my thermostat is connected via HomeKit 3rd parties can’t access it. Got it. 
  • Reply 17 of 47
    Beats said:
    Beats said:
    This scares me. I didn’t know thermostats could be controlled by third-parties. So does everything HomeKit compatible work this way? Geez.

    This is the most absurdly dramatic and sensational article ever written… tampered? Please. Someone was sweating? Rough life.  Someone dehydrating in “unbearable” 78 degree heat? They upped the temp by four degrees… Christ on crutches. Just delete this and try again. So poorly written. 

    Wgkrueger said:

    Who in the world other than entitled rich people calls 78 degrees unbearably hot? 

    Why should we care that entitled rich people are sweating?

    This was Texas. Have you not lived in the south or an area with extreme heat? If your AC turns off and you’re in a far room away from the thermostat you’ll start sweating pretty quickly before the thermostat in the living room catches up to the heat. This problem needs to be solved.
    This has nothing to do with HomeKit. The thermostats that are in question are connected to the internet and and can be controlled via apps. None of that requires HomeKit. Where I live (in Texas) the utility company will provide you a credit if you buy a qualifying thermostat and as part of getting the credit you grant them access to control the temperature if they need to. None of which has anything to do with HomeKit. 

    So if my thermostat is connected via HomeKit 3rd parties can’t access it. Got it. 
    Not exactly, I can still control my thermostat with HomeKit but that isn’t the only way I can control it. And giving access to it outside of HomeKit the only thing they can access is my thermostat. That can’t mess with my lights, coffee maker or front door. 

    The point is that the people in question had their thermostat connected to the internet and gave access to a third part for the express purposes of controlling the thermostat. This has nothing to do with HomeKit or Apple. If you don’t want a third party to control your devices don’t give the third party the ability to control your devices. It’s pretty simple.

    it is like setting up auto pay for your electric bill and then being surprised that your bill was automatically paid. 


    edited June 20
  • Reply 18 of 47
    ransonranson Posts: 29member
    What a ridiculous, misinformed, clickbait article. Nobody's thermostats are being tampered with. They opted into a program that allows this, and in exchange they receive financial perks on their power bill (including the power company providing the smart thermostats to them for free). This article needs a major overhaul, or to be retracted completely.

    I have been reading AI for over 20 years, but if you keep churning out trash like this, you will quickly fall off of my bookmarks. There are plenty of other reputable sites covering Apple that post the same news as you do, just as timely. Clearly they are more informed about the topics they are reporting.

    Engadget similarly posted a trash story about smart thermostats a few years back (here), and I promptly removed them from my news feed and have not been back.
    edited June 20 docno42tokyojimuStrangeDaysFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 47
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,450member
    "The house had risen in temperature to 78 degrees, English said, and that his wife and kids "woke up sweating." He was concerned about his three-month-old daughter potentially dehydrating from the heat in the unbearably hot home. “

    Absolutely complete bullshit. 78 degrees is THE recommended setting for energy saving. 78 F is NOT  ‘unbelievably hot’. A Three month old will NOT dehydrate in 78 degree heat. I can’t believe the bullshit of this article. 
    Beats said:
    Beats said:
    This scares me. I didn’t know thermostats could be controlled by third-parties. So does everything HomeKit compatible work this way? Geez.

    This is the most absurdly dramatic and sensational article ever written… tampered? Please. Someone was sweating? Rough life.  Someone dehydrating in “unbearable” 78 degree heat? They upped the temp by four degrees… Christ on crutches. Just delete this and try again. So poorly written. 

    Wgkrueger said:

    Who in the world other than entitled rich people calls 78 degrees unbearably hot? 

    Why should we care that entitled rich people are sweating?

    This was Texas. Have you not lived in the south or an area with extreme heat? If your AC turns off and you’re in a far room away from the thermostat you’ll start sweating pretty quickly before the thermostat in the living room catches up to the heat. This problem needs to be solved.
    This has nothing to do with HomeKit. The thermostats that are in question are connected to the internet and and can be controlled via apps. None of that requires HomeKit. Where I live (in Texas) the utility company will provide you a credit if you buy a qualifying thermostat and as part of getting the credit you grant them access to control the temperature if they need to. None of which has anything to do with HomeKit. 

    So if my thermostat is connected via HomeKit 3rd parties can’t access it. Got it. 
    All of your posts in this thread have been abject, histrionic fear mongering.
    muthuk_vanalingamStrangeDaysFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 47
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,450member
    This entire article is complete bullshit. 78° F is NOT ‘unbearably hot’ under any setting. A three month old child will NOT dehydrate in 78° F. Sheesh, talk about hysteria.

    And this is just the beginning. Expect mandatory environmental control to increase as demand for energy rises geometrically while fossil fueled power plants are shut down, hydroelectric dams are blown up, and nuclear plants are blocked at every turn by environmentalists. Fusion power will remain a pipe dream for decades to come. Wind and solar panels cannot store enough energy to meet daily loads, let alone base loads. 
    docno42watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.