Local residents say smart thermostats were controlled remotely in an attempt to conserve energy

Smart thermostats remotely adjusted amid hot temps
Smart thermostats remotely adjusted amid hot temps

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ conservation alert urged Texans to conserve electricity this week and part of their recommendation was to raise the temperature on the thermostat.

Karen Rogers said her daughter was trying to do her part but noticed the thermostat was being turned up without her consent.

Rogers’ said the family’s Galveston home became noticeably hot and uncomfortable.

“I really started investigating and thinking who could have done this can like an energy company controls it? 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,” Rogers said.

Turns out that some smart Thermostats owners might be enrolled in a program called Smart Savers Texas which is operated by a company called EnergyHub in exchange for enrolling in a sweepstake.

Rogers said she has seen opted out of the program and questions whether it really works.

“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,” Rogers said.

Energy Hub lists some of its clients as CenterPoint Energy, ERCOT and TXU Energy.

For a list of smart thermostats associated with EnergyHub, you can visit.

KPRC 2 reached out to Energy Hub about the thermostats and obtained a statement from Erika Diamond, the Vice President of Customer Solutions:

Smart Savers Texas helps support grid reliability by working with thermostat manufacturers and security dealer partners to sign up connected thermostat owners to participate in reducing energy use when the grid needs it most.

Thermostat owners typically receive an offer to participate from their manufacturer or service provider within their mobile app or via email. During a demand response event, Smart Savers Texas increases the temperature on participating thermostats by up to four degrees to reduce energy consumption and relieve stress on the grid. Every participant actively agrees to the terms of the program and can opt out of a demand response event at any time.

The ability to reduce energy consumption is critical to managing the grid, in Texas and nationwide. EnergyHub works with more than 50 utilities across the country to harness connected devices to meet grid needs. This is a tool to reliably reduce load on the grid-enabled through the technology of EnergyHub and our connected thermostat partners.

CenterPoint Energy also responded to our requests for information.

At CenterPoint Energy, partnering with customers to offer affordable conservation and energy-efficiency programs is a key element of achieving our carbon reduction goals. However, Texas law prevents us from offering programs directly to residential customers and all of our programs are delivered through third-party service providers.

CenterPoint Energy has agreements with companies who aggregate residential customers for purposes of curtailing energy use. These companies, such as EnergyHub, enroll residential customers who agree to participate in curtailment events designed to reduce load peak demand. The Smart Savers Texas Program is managed by EnergyHub. When CenterPoint Energy, or another utility, initiates a curtailment event based on high temperatures or high demand, EnergyHub then starts the energy curtailment through the customers it has enrolled in its program.

On Wednesday, June 16, CenterPoint Energy conducted a test curtailment event from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. These curtailment tests occur twice a year. Per our customary process, we issued a notification to EnergyHub, and other participating companies, to initiate energy curtailment for their residential customers who have agreed to participate in the program. After receiving the notification, EnergyHub adjusted the thermostat set point for those enrolled customers. The test concluded by 5 p.m. on June 16 and CenterPoint Energy has no further tests planned at this time.


About the Author:

Reporter, proud Houstonian, U of H alumni, and lover of all the hometown sport teams.