Power Companies Take Over Texans' Smart Thermostats During Energy Shortage

By Anna Gallegos

June 18, 2021

Photo: Getty Images

Texans with smart thermostats say power companies are changing the temperature inside their homes during the ongoing energy crisis.

A family near Houston found this out when a mom and her infant daughter woke up from an afternoon nap this week because of the heat. Deer Park resident Brandon English told KHOU that his wife turned on the air conditioner before falling asleep, but it was off when she woke up.

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

Other Texans have also complained about their internet-connected smart thermostats, like Google's Nest, not working correctly.

One man complained in a TikTok video about how his thermostat is set to 70°, but his home won't get cooler than 80°.

Texans are unable to control their smart thermostats if they're enrolled in “Smart Savers Texas" or other energy savings programs, The Verge reported.

Power companies encourage their customers to enroll in these programs by offering discounts, credits, or other perks. However, Texans are finding out that hard way that these programs also give energy companies the right to remotely change their thermostats during periods of high energy demand.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking Texans to conserve energy to prevent power outages, like those that happened during February's winter storm. ERCOT's tips include setting thermostats to 78° or higher during the day.

England told KHOU he immediately unrolled his home in the energy savings program once he learned about it.

“I wouldn’t want anybody else controlling my things for me,” he said.

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