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Does Your Utility Control Your Smart House?

When your local electric utility offered a new smart thermostat a heavy discount, a lot of homeowners jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, past the energy savings messaging, a clause in the terms of the promotion grants the utility access to your data and the ability to remotely control the device!


The Texas energy grid has had an extremely rough year from a catastrophic failure during the winter to now struggling to meet demand in a sweltering heat. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is now adjusting the air conditioner in some customer’s homes using smart thermostats, hoping to reduce the impact on them.

[00:00:16] How can they do this? Well, for the past few years across north America, utilities have offered dramatic discounts on smart thermostats, like the Nest or Ecobee, many homeowners jumped at the chance.

But hidden in the terms of promotion was a clause providing utilities access to your data and the ability to control the thermostat when they deem it necessary.

[00:00:35] One of the many problems is that the utility has no idea of your family’s requirements or concerns want to get out of this program. It’s usually possible, but you’re going to have to pay the utility to reimburse them for the savings on the thermostat.

This is another reminder why it’s always critical to read the terms and conditions of any smart home technology.