Fact Check: Are Power Companies Raising Smart Thermostat Temperatures Without Owners’ Permission?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Alexandra HartJuly 14, 2021 2:28 pm, , , , ,

From PolitiFact Texas:

Summertime temperatures rose into the high 90s last month across Texas. It wasn’t an unusual heat for Texas in mid-June, but it did trigger the state’s grid operator to issue energy conservation alerts.

The alerts issued by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas asked residents to set their thermostats at 78 degrees in order to help maintain grid reliability. For some Texans, that adjustment was made automatically by their WiFi-enabled thermostats.

Weeks later, Fox News host Tucker Carlson aired a segment on his show focusing on those thermostats.

“In Texas, the power companies have automatically raised the temperature of people’s thermostats in the middle of a heatwave without their permission,” he said. “Woo. That’s not creepy or anything.”

Carlson was referring to an energy conservation technique called demand response, in which electric utilities or third-party grid monitors will remotely adjust residents’ thermostats to reduce energy demand during periods of tight supply. It’s a practice that has been in Texas, and around the nation, for at least two decades. Initially, older thermostats were remotely controlled using a radio paging technology. Today, companies can tap into smart thermostats — like those manufactured by Google Nest, Ecobee or Honeywell — over the internet.

But are these adjustments being made without people’s permission, as Carlson claims? …

Read the rest of the story and see how Carlson’s claim rated at PolitiFact Texas. And listen to an interview with PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder in the audio player above.

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