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Did a Texas utility remotely alter residents’ smart thermostats?

Answer: It looks like it.

Nest thermostat.
If you’re a Texas resident whose smart thermostat recently increased the temperature of its own accord, you’re not alone and your system isn’t malfunctioning. It was just the utility company adjusting it remotely.

With a heat wave battering a large portion of the U.S. over the past week, including the state of Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) called on customers to turn up their thermostats in order to reduce strain on the state’s power grid. And it seems that some customers with smart thermostats were enrolled in a program that allowed their utility companies to adjust their thermostats remotely under certain circumstances.

One resident, Brandon English, reported coming home from work to find that his home had reached almost 80 degrees while his wife and infant daughter were taking an afternoon nap — after his wife had purposely turned the temperature down before they went to sleep. Not long after they “woke up sweating” and discovered the temperature change, his wife received an alert on her phone informing them that their smart thermostat had been adjusted remotely for three hours for an “energy saving event.”

English then discovered that their thermostat was enrolled in the “Smart Savers Texas” program, which is an opt-in program that allows energy companies to adjust the thermostat during high-demand events in return for entry into a sweepstakes. He unenrolled when he discovered the details of the program.

The English family were not the only ones that this happened to — The Daily Dot and KHOU 11 discovered multiple accounts of this occurring to other Texas residents on social media.
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