Texas power companies heated up some customers’ homes last week by remotely controlling their smart thermostats. One resident in the state, which is facing a heat wave that is straining its power grid said that his family had awoken from a nap sweating and shocked that their home had gotten as hot as 78 degrees Fahrenheit.The residents have enrolled their thermostats in an energy-conservation promotion called Smart Savers Texas, run by a company called EnergyHub, in partnership with power companies. The program gives EnergyHub permission to adjust participants’ smart thermostats remotely during times of peak energy demand, in exchange for entry into a sweepstakes.
Erika Diamond, EnergyHub’s vice president of customer solutions said that during a demand-response event, Smart Savers Texas increases the temperature on participating smart thermostats by up to 4 degrees to reduce energy consumption and relieve stress on the grid. The ability to reduce energy consumption is critical to managing the grid, in Texas and nationwide.
Diamond said that the thermostat owners get an offer to participate in the program from their device manufacturer or energy provider via mobile app or email. Every participant actively agrees to the terms of the program and can opt out of a demand-response event at any time.
Diamond told USA Today that demand-response events occurred rarely, about two to eight times a summer. EnergyHub did not immediately have a response to the questions about whether it notified participants before adjusting their thermostats. CenterPoint Energy, a major energy provider in Texas, said that it had conducted a test curtailment event from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and that at its direction, EnergyHub adjusted the thermostat set point for those enrolled customers.