Texas Power Companies Are Remotely Raising Temperatures on Residents’ Smart Thermostats

(Gizmodo) Texas is one of several states suffering through a record-breaking heat wave that’s pushing electric grids to their limits.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, has urged residents to do their part by raising the temperature on their thermostats, but several smart thermostats owners say their devices have been controlled remotely to conserve energy, leaving them in sweltering homes without a clue as to why.

Turns out, some of them just didn’t read the fine print. Several residents in the Houston area said they’d unknowingly enrolled in a program called “Smart Savers Texas” as part of a promotion, according to a report from local ABC-affiliate WFAA on Friday.

The agreement states that in exchange for an entry into sweepstakes, electric customers grant permission for the program’s operator, EnergyHub, to control their thermostats during periods of high energy demand.

Brandon English, one of the residents WFAA spoke with, said he arrived home from work on Wednesday to find the temperature on his smart thermostat had been jacked up while his wife and newborn daughter napped.

“They’d been asleep long enough that the house had already gotten to 78 degrees,” English said. “So they woke up sweating.”

He unenrolled from the program as soon as he found out and expressed concern about how the remote temperature adjustment could affect his family’s health.

“Was my daughter at the point of overheating?” English told WFAA. “She’s 3 months old. They dehydrate very quickly.”

EnergyHub’s website says it’s partnered with several thermostat providers, including Google and Amazon, and its list of clients includes major energy companies such as National Grid, CenterPoint Energy, and ERCOT.

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