Smart thermostat owners might find their temperatures rising during concerning heat wave in Texas

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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If Texas asks for residents to conserve energy again, those with smart thermostats might notice the inability to control temperatures from inside their homes.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you own a smart thermostat, you might your air conditioning temperature automatically rising if the state asks people to help conserve energy.

With triple-digit temperatures coming, there will be a lot of adjusting of thermostats.

RELATED:Texans may hear more calls for power conservation with next week's extreme warmth

"Most of the time, me and my husband are at work," Tomball resident Olga Benavides said. "The kids are at home. They're older. They're teenagers, so they stay at home and lower the thermostats. We have no control over that."

Some parents don't have full control over the thermostat, and it is not because of their kids. But the power company can change the smart device in their home remotely.

"They're actually really easy to control because that device actually controls it," David Kinchen, Energy Ogre's chief operating officer, said. "It sends a signal to the air conditioner, and then that will control it per the protection settings."

Energy Ogre helps customers find lower power prices.

Kinchen said that sometimes the lower deals mean giving power companies the ability to change your home's thermostat when the state needs help with the grid.

RELATED: Texans asked to set thermostats to at least 78 degrees during 5-hour peak period Saturday, Sunday

"For most of these programs, people have opted into that program," Kinchen explained. "They frequently haven't noticed, or they've done it so long ago they don't remember."

Last week, the state of Texas had to ask for help twice.

You may have noticed a temperature change if you have a smart thermostat, not just from power companies. During set-up, you may have unknowingly opted into the green energy program.

RELATED: Electricity goes out as ABC13 Chief Meteorologist Travis Herzog reports on heat wave in Houston

You can opt out of this program by simply changing the setting. You may have to call if you got the device from a power company.

"If they just couldn't get to a point where they were happy with it, they could always exit that contract," Kinchen explained. "There would be an early termination fee potentially."

More conservation calls could come this week. The state is expecting to break demand records every day through Wednesday. A strain that could cause thermostats to change without anyone touching them.

"I don't think that we could do that," Benavides said. "Our kids constantly lower the thermostats," ABC13 asked ERCOT if more conservation calls could be coming this week. The agency said they are closely monitoring the situation and will use any tools if necessary.

Reliant, which offers a smart thermostat program, said there are differences with how it handles energy conservation periods. A spokesperson said it has a demand response program called "Degrees of Difference" to have their temperature automatically adjusted by four degrees during designated periods.

The company said customers have "total control" and can adjust their thermostat as desired. If a customer want to opt-out of the program, they can do so with no penalty. The program is separate from their power plan.

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