NROP: It’s getting hot in here…

Nelly – Hot in Herre

Man, this was a looooong time ago…

The title of this post, and then subsequently this song popped into my head as I read about what happened in Texas recently.

Well, what happened in Texas, Goldie?

The electric company tried to turn people into BBQ.

*insert collective gasps*

First, a back story:

A few years ago, I received a letter from the electric company announcing that I could save some money by not using as much energy during peak times as I normally did (based on my historical usage). On days that they expected to be really warm, they would send me a text in the morning, informing me of the specific hours that I would have to use the air conditioning (AC) less in order to be paid. Yes, for every little bit of energy that I saved, they paid me a couple of pennies (deducted from my bill). At first, I thought it was a scam. “THEY are going to pay ME?” It sounded too good to be true. However, I decided to give it a try. All I had to do was sign up. Afterward, I could either follow their recommendations and save…, or not, which I thought was perfect for someone who was not sure about the program.

The text messages announcing the savings times happened rather rarely and they did not seem to impact me much (they either occurred when I was at work, or when I did not mind being a degree or two warmer). They sent me messages letting me know how much I “earned” quite regularly, which was meant to motivate me to save even more. Overall, I did not find anything negative about it, but I also did not earn/ save enough to think it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I think it was a pilot project because I do not remember doing it the following year. (Unless it was when I moved… I cannot be sure. My memory is not as it used to be.)

I remember having a coworker who opted in to have their bills balanced throughout the year. What do I mean by that? Well, in most households, you use electricity (mainly AC) much more during summer than you do during winter (unless your heating is electric, too), which means that you pay less during wintertime, but might end up paying a lot more during summer. For some, the summer spikes can be difficult on their bank accounts, so they choose to spread it out more evenly and enroll with the electric company to pay a bit more during winter months and a bit less during the summer. To me, it sounds a bit like poor finance management, but different things work for different people.

Just a couple of months ago, I received a letter from my electric company informing me that I could save some money on my bill. Excited, I read through the terms and conditions. After looking at the numbers, I found out that yes, I could save some money if I used less electricity during certain times, but, I could also end up paying more money than I normally would if I used more electricity during specific times if I was not careful. I was not willing to sign up for that. There was no way I was going to print out a schedule and hang it up on the fridge to know when I needed to shut off the electricity in order to not incur colossal charges. But again, it might be a program that could prove beneficial for some. I guess I am just not that green. Especially since I have been working from home this past year or so.

Back on topic now:

In Texas, an electric company adjusted people’s thermostats remotely, having some of the citizens wake up sweating profusely, wondering what was going on. When they got up to check the thermostat, it read 78F (25.5C). For me, it is the perfect temperature to be out and about but waking up to that might be a bit much. How did this happen? Those people supposedly enrolled in a program the likes of what I described earlier to save on their energy bills. I looked through the Q&A page for this initiative on the EnrollMyThermostat website but was unable to find out if those people were ever warned when the “savings” time would occur like I did years ago, or if they were totally unaware of it.

Knowing my fellow Americans, I am sure that some of them enrolled in the program without reading the fine print or really thinking it through. But, what I choose to focus on are the “Smart” thermostats, which you can control from anywhere. It is awesome if you can change the temperature at home as you are leaving the office so that you get back to the house the temperature is nice and cool. But do you know what is NOT awesome? Having someone hack your thermostat to a point where you roast.

When I mention things like this, most people look at me like I am the worst conspiracy theorist ever. “This will never happen,” they say. “Why would anyone do that?” they ask, smirking. You think that until you see it on the news. Sooner or later, someone WILL do it. Or, the mechanism will somehow malfunction and set you on fire while claiming that it was YOUR choice.

We already have electric companies manipulating temperatures in our homes! I guess that could help people like me who do not want to have to track all those low and high-priced hours. “They do it for you!” “How fantastic!” No. No, thank you. I would rather pay a few cents more or even track it myself instead of giving someone the ability to either freeze or boil me at will.

  • Have you ever participated in an energy-saving program?
  • Do you have a smart thermostat? If yes, then what made you get it? If no, would you ever get it, and why?
  • Is 78F warm, cold, or just right in your book?

Stay golden,

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29 thoughts on “NROP: It’s getting hot in here…

Add yours

  1. I’ve been reading about Texas. No heat in the winter and no cool in the summer sounds like a weak plan. I have equal billing for my gas. My electric and gas are two different companies and natural gas does the heating, water tank, and my stove. I like the equal billing, not for the summer when it drops to negligible, but for the winter when it can be gross.

    A few years ago, the much desired addition of third companies by free market enthusiasts happened. People could opt out of Fortis and choose a third party. As you mentioned, many didn’t read their contracts or the fine print and found themselves on the hook for big coin. At least they didn’t find their smart home hacked. This is why I’m hesitant to embrace the internet of things. It’s all fun and games until someone else plays with your thermostat or Ring camera or fridge. Great post. It will make people think. And, maybe read the things they sign. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Weak plan indeed.

      It looks like the equal plan is more popular than I thought. I remember my father freaking out when the winter months would approach. Everyone was traumatized when the gas bill would come during those months. I don’t think equal billing was an option back then. Plus, I don’t think my father would agree to pay more than he owed in the summer just to pay less in the winter. Weird principles like that.

      I remember having the third party option a few years ago, too. It did sound like an interesting option but the fine print revealed potential risks. I decided to wait and see. Yup… most regretted the switch.

      Agreed with the technology part of your comment. Freaky.

      I can only hope that my stuff makes people think and saves them from potential trouble.

      Stay golden!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 68 might be nice. I could live in 68 all the time, in fact.
    We’d often wake up in the old house we lived in with the temp < 55. And be happy when it bumped over 60. Thing was a heat sieve. Over 75? Oof, turn the heat down.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t live in the city, so we don’t have those programs… that I have ever heard of. I don’t have a “smart” meter, nor would I if they were available.

    As for temps… that’s very subjective. Mostly I think 78* is a little too warm. I do tend to keep my home warmer than most (I think). In the lower 48, I always kept my home at 69* (when I had electricity). In Alaska, I keep it at 68-70* in summer and 74* in winter because this home doesn’t hold its heat well and winters make it colder faster. Usually turn the heat down every night. I’ve done that my entire adult life. Outside… 78* feels good. Maybe it’s the air movement, I don’t know. But I can handle way warmer temps outside than inside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You and your tendency for horror could write a brilliant story about “smart” meters.

      Agreed. I see some people warm when I’m cold and some are cold when I’m warm.
      48 seems chilly to me. Isn’t it funny how the same temperature outside feels totally different when it’s inside? I’m the same – the outside warmth is easier to handle that the warmth inside.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. For some, the summer spikes can be difficult on their bank accounts, so they choose to spread it out more evenly and enroll with the electric company to pay a bit more during winter months and a bit less during the summer. To me, it sounds a bit like poor finance management, but different things work for different people.

    I think all of the energy providers here in the UK offer the ability to smooth your payments over the year as standard. To me, far from being ‘poor finance management’, it’s quite the opposite. Assuming a regular income, it’s much easier to handle a regular constant payment than one that goes up and down. Diff’rent strokes.

    As for this Texas situation, I find it quite astonishing that Texans have fallen for the lies they’ve been told about their energy infrastructure, and totally unsurprised to hear that unscrupulous providers would take advantage of gullibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My brain says: “You can either invest your money in the summer to pay them in the winter, or give them the money now so they can invest and get richer now.”

      But you are absolutely right – different strokes.

      Yes, I feel bad for Texans but at the same time, I hope they learn something from it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have an equal billing plan for all my utilities (gas, electricity, water) and it works great for me. I have a programmable thermostat where I have it set to go up and down at different times, but it is not a Smart one, I can only do it from the thermostat. 78 is way too warm for me. I usually have my house set between 68 and 70 both winter and summer. I would not want anyone outside my home setting or changing my thermostat.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I do my own budgeting and I like to be smarter than my technology (no smart devices). In the summer we usually keep a/c around 75 when we have it on. In the winter we usually keep the furnace around 68 in the day but drop it down to 65 at night.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yikes! Have you heard about Bill Gates’ nanobot medicine idea? I’m having a hard time finding articles on it, but a doctor I know was explaining the idea to me. Same concept as the thermostat, except it’s an implant in a person’s body that doctors can use to remotely release chemicals into the bloodstream for an array of treatments. But what if someone decides they’d rather release some adverse chemicals into your body? All they’d have to do is press a button. Of course we’re not there yet, but the fact that this is an idea being developed is a bit concerning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard about it. Didn’t remember it stemmed from Gates, but that makes sense. Definitely a revolutionary technique that might save many lives. … And ruin others. Of course, you and I will be shunned for being such skeptics. Humans are gooooood.

      Stay golden!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. its all fun and games until someone hacks your thermostat and burns you to a crisp of freezes you to a popsicle depending on their whim…

    I can see how the idea has merit like for here where we are troubled with power outages which result from high load on the grid and so they end up Load Shedding which is basically them just saying you all using too much power so we cutting you all off…


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry to hear what your going through, maybe things need to be upgraded in the area, we got so match gadgets now in in our homes, than we did many years ago, hope things improve.

    Liked by 1 person

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Ellie Thompson

Musings and Memoirs - True Tales of My Life ...

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Where the power of my thoughts comes from the craft of writing.

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