Friday, January 11, 2008

Big Brother Wants Your Thermostat

California wants control of the thermostat in your new home.

California utilities would control the temperature of new homes and commercial buildings in emergencies with a radio-controlled thermostat, under a proposed state update to building energy efficiency standards.

Customers could not override the thermostats during "emergency events," according to the proposal, part of a 236-page revision to building standards. The document is scheduled to be considered by the California Energy Commission, a state agency, on Jan. 30.The description does not provide any exception for health or safety concerns. It also does not define what are "emergency events."

This is related to my day job. In the Tampa area, Tampa Electric (TECO) has a volunteer program called Prime Time. During a time of high use, instead of firing up another plant, TECO would shut down air conditioning in selected homes to save energy. This is done so rarely that many Prime Time customers forget that they are on the program.

During the first freaky cold snap we would get no heat calls and then a half hour later the same folks would call back to say "Never mind" as TECO turn their heat back on.

In exchange for being on this program TECO customers get a discount on their electric bill.

Unlike the TECO Prime Time program (which is voluntary), this California proposal would be mandatory for new homes.

I know what you are thinking, and I am sure that there is a mechanism which would warn the powers to be if you should replace their thermostat with one controlled by you.

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