How a faulty smart thermostat caused huge electric bills for one customer

HOUSTON – Smart appliances and thermostats are supposed to help users save money because you can adjust and control devices even when you’re not at home. But one Houston woman says her smart thermostat cost her thousands of dollars in sky-high electric bills.

What happened

“I would never have dreamed that it was my thermostat,” Nichole Medrano told consumer expert Amy Davis.

When Medrano moved into her apartment 3 years ago, she hired Vivint Security to install cameras, a smart doorbell and a smart thermostat. It wasn’t until last fall that her electric usage shot way up, costing her $2,800 for four months of electricity.

She called Reliant after her first abnormally high bill in October 2020. Reliant checked Medrano’s meter and assured her that it was accurate.

“I didn’t have any new appliances,” Medrano said. “I didn’t have company at that time because of COVID.”

Despite that, her bills and usage continued to mysteriously increase from her average of 700 kilowatts and about $120 to more than 5,000 kilowatts and a bill of more than $1,000. Nichole paid what she could to make sure her lights stayed on while Reliant helped her investigate.

The investigation


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