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Poll: Should the power company be able to adjust your thermostat?

Thermostat**UPDATE: Jan. 16: “State officials have ditched a plan to require remote-controlled thermostats in homes and businesses.” (San Francisco Chronicle) But you may be able to request one if you’re so inclined. Read more**

Here’s one way to prevent blackouts during times of high power demand:

Equip homes and businesses with remote-control thermostats that allow an energy company to limit how hot or cool your house can be when power demand threatens to crash the system.

This idea is being proposed by the California Energy Commission.

I like the idea of a remote-control thermostat. Let’s say I will getting home later than I planned. I could go online, or make a phone call, and signal to my thermostat to hold off getting my house up to a comfortable temperature. That could be fun.

But if another entity was controlling my thermostat, well, that could be creepy. Read the whole story at the San Francisco Chronicle and Gwinnett Daily Online. It’s also being vigorously discussed on talk radio.

The California Energy Commission will consider "smart thermostats" on Jan. 30 in Sacramento.

Public comments on the issue can be submitted by e-mail to cgekas@energy.state.ca.us, or mailed to 2008 Energy Efficiency Building Standards Docket; Attention: C. Gekas, California Energy Commission; 1516 9th St.; Sacramento, CA 95814.

7 Comments on Poll: Should the power company be able to adjust your thermostat?

  1. Adding remote control to our thermostats as the “gassing through vents” scenario continues to take place in Fresno (and ?) seems like planning of a mass suicide / genocide. One of the people involved is the father of a local FBI agent – he repeatedly said that a disaster was coming, which would leave everyone dead. Even though it would be more costly, it may be time to go back to window air conditioning and space heaters. Click below:
    http://fresnothermostatcontrol.blogspot.com/

  2. Check this out
    Power grid backfeed protection apparatus Document Type and Number:United States Patent 7148585 Link to this page:http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7148585.html Abstract:A circuit breaker that functions like a double pole double throw (DPDT) switch is used to isolate the commercial power grid from an external power source. When in the “on” position the circuit breaker serves as a main power input circuit breaker allowing power from the commercial power grid to feed into existing wiring. In the “off” position the commercial power grid is disconnected and isolated from the existing wiring. Instead, the switch mechanism is connected to an external power source such as a generator. The generator can be safely operated without risking power backfeed into the commercial power grid.

  3. Interesting approach to lowering consumption. Traditionally power utilities would cut off a few huge customers (e.g. an aluminum smelter plant) rather than affect usage of millions of customers.
    Kathy, a generator transfer switch & grid-tie PV system can be legally set up such that you are not backfeeding power into the grid during an outage. Its common to see a PV system backed up with a propane generator. Propane is neat stuff because you can safely store large quantities, it doesn’t break down or absorb moisture like gas or diesel, and it doesn’t have carbon byproducts when it is burned.

  4. I’m not in CA but would be in favor of this in my home state, NY, as long as it applied to businesses as well as residences. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked by a Gap, shoe store, Virgin Megastore, Sephora, etc. on a blazing hot summer day and the door to the store is WIDE OPEN, “tempting” passersby to come in and enjoy the cool air (and, uh, maybe shop a little). My local post office, which is also the main post office for the borough, is the guiltiest – they prop open multiple doors and the security guard will open them again if you shut one. Wasteful fools.

  5. Here’s the salient points from the article:
    1. Air conditioning shutoff only.
    2. Consumers can override the shutoff.
    3. Applies only to new and some renovated systems.
    3a. Not mandatory for existing systems.
    If it prevents summer time Inland Empire electrical demand from causing me to suffer a blackout, then I’m all for it.
    Of course this measure would have to be part of a holistic energy solution.

  6. Kathy Price-Robinson // January 14, 2008 at 10:09 am // Reply

    Yehuda, the guy who is trying to sell me a solar energy system says he knows someone with an automatic switch that transfers the electricity generated by his panels to a generator when the grid goes down. Does anyone know if this is allowed by the utility company in a grid-tied system?

  7. Yehuda Draiman, Energy analyst // January 14, 2008 at 6:07 am // Reply

    A more efficient and cost effective renewable energy system is needed, to accelerate the implementation of renewable electric generation with added incentives and a FASTER PAYBACK – ROI. (A method of storing energy, would accelerate the use of renewable energy)
    In California, you also have the impediment, that when there are an interruption of power supply by the Utility you the consumer cannot use your renewable energy system to provide power.
    In today’s technology there is automatic switching equipment that would disconnect the consumer from the grid, which would permit renewable generation for the consumer even during power interruption.
    Jay Draiman, Northridge, CA

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