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Smart thermostats auto-adjust to keep the Texas power grid running

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Texas’ energy grid has been strained once again, this time dealing with a massive heatwave sweeping across the state that has led energy companies to adjust several users’ smart thermostat to higher temperatures automatically. 

Residents in Texas who have smart thermostats in their houses can sign up for promotional programs (otherwise known as demand-response programs) that offer them sweepstakes and discounts. However, in exchange, the concerned power company can control their thermostats remotely during power surges. 

The move comes after the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) had urged customers to adjust thermostats to higher temperatures (78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) and not use as much air conditioning to cut back on electricity usage for a few days. 

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Texans confused by what happened

What happened was nothing out of the ordinary for participants in such programs, rolled out by utility companies across USA. This is exactly how these programs are intended to work.

However, these programs allow customers to make changes to their thermostats manually if they want to, overriding the company’s settings. But that didn’t seem to be the case here. 

Image via Smart Home Perfected | Flickr

CPS Energy, a company that offers such demand-response programs, offers customers a one-time bill credit and annual bill credits when using an eligible WiFi-enabled thermostat, allowing them to save up to $85 as a one-time rebate, among other offers. 

According to the CPS Energy website, ” During summer peak energy demand days, we may briefly adjust your thermostat settings by a few degrees. We’ll do this only as needed.” A spokesperson for TXU Energy in Dallas told The Verge that their company did not activate the demand response program from this week.  

This isn’t Texas’ energy grid’s first failure either. Back in February, the grid failed to deal with a winter storm that left millions in a blackout for days. 

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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