Many Texans found the power company was turning up their thermostats during a heat wave last week and, while that’s a little Big Brother-ish, it turns out those customers agreed to it.
Texas power companies remotely controlled the residents’ internet-connected “smart” thermostats, according to Houston’s KHOU 11, but those customers had signed up for a sweepstakes — “Smart Savers Texas” operated by a company called Energy Hub.
The contest provided a chance to win free electricity for a year and, whether the residents remember doing so or not, they had to opt-in to qualify for the sweepstakes. It gave EnergyHub the power to control home temperatures.
“During a demand-response event, Smart Savers Texas increases the temperature on participating thermostats by up to 4 degrees to reduce energy consumption and relieve stress on the grid,” Erika Diamond, EnergyHub’s vice president of customer solutions, told Business Insider, adding that “the ability to reduce energy consumption is critical to managing the grid, in Texas and nationwide.”
Thermostats were raised to 78 degrees at various points of the day and night.
Houston resident Brandon English said he didn’t realize his thermostat had been affected until his wife and infant daughter awakened, “sweating,” after an afternoon nap.
“Was my daughter at the point of overheating?” English told KHOU. “She’s 3 months old. They dehydrate very quickly.”
Galveston customer Karen Rogers, who experienced a similar thermostat adjustment, looked deeper into the agreement and ultimately opted out.
She’s back in control now.
“I really started investigating and thinking … can, like, an energy company controls it?” she told Click2Houston.com. “I found an activity log and it said that a saving event was initiated by the utility company and so I was just really intrigued in what that means.
“I’m not sure that it really helped with the energy issue because then I feel like we were using more to try and get back down to a comfortable level.”