California wants to control household thermostats

California legislature is thinking about taking control of your thermostat. I started laughing when I read that. Is this a joke?

They can try, but it ain’t gonna work. All the other examples they give are for things like irrigation. Once a device is placed into my house, it becomes mine, and I can mess with it at will. They will find that it suddenly fails to communicate very well. I wonder why?

But yes, it’s real. They actually think people will stand for this.

I guess the debate is “are they that fucking stupid”? Not only will it not save any electricity it will actually increase the load as people put quartz heaters in front of their thermostat.

Do you mess with the PG&E meter attached to your house? I too think this is a bad idea and I hope it fails, but that was some pretty tough talk I hope you know a good defense attorney…

“Attached to my house” is the key phrase here. The stuff outside might belong to a utility company. Inside the house it’s mine, and I’ll mess with it at my whim.

A simple droplight should solve the problem, however. Plant a 100 watt bulb under the thermostat, and no more problem.

I dunno. This might actually be a good idea, compared to the alternative. Because the alternative is what we do now, and that’s much worse than controlling your thermostat-- they can shut off power to your house altogether. So, if the question is you have only two choices:

  1. Shut off power completely to “X” percent of households (selected at random).

  2. Adjust the thermostat setting to 100% of of households.

Which is the better solution?

The better solution would be to allow people to voluntarily agree to these thermostats in exchange for a lower rate. Incentivize the behavior you seek, and you save yourself the grumbling.

I thought most ac/heaters run off natural gas in CA anyway? How much electricity would this actually save? Or do I misunderstand the way natural gas ac/heaters work?

It’s for the summer, when rolling blackouts are fairly common. By turning the thermostat up, less air conditioning and thus less electricity is used.

Help me out here, but how would a light bulb near the thermostat help with this issue?

If I have the thermostat set at 72º, and the State decides that it should be set at 80º, then I have to convince it that it is really 80º in the house. Put a lightbulb under the thermostat and it raises the microtemperature quite a bit.

Not for most air conditioning, which uses electricity to operate a compressor cycle.

They’re currently offering something like that in Stockton. I got a letter from PG&E sometime before Christmas. I wonder how many people threw them away as fast as I did.

I agree. Or, we need to have variable rate electricity billing-- you pay X amount during off-peak hours and X+Y amount during peak hours.

Heat, yes, but we don’t have power problems in the winter (that’s probably why). My A/C is electric, and I’m not aware of anyone who has gas A/C.

Pardon? I thought there hadn’t been rolling blackouts in CA in years. Wiki seems to back me up here – the last blackouts were in southern CA, in August 2005, the time before that was in 2001. Is this incorrect?

Unless the grid itself is not capable of flowing the current the problem is a shortage of power stations. This started years ago and the solution, as simple as it is, has not been implemented.

I distintly remember the news story (years ago) that said they expected brown-outs in the following year. Nothing happened. People died from heat exhaustion the following year. Months later the governor stood in front of peak-use generators and announced they were building power stations. Oiy :smack: First, it only takes 6 months to build a peak use generator, and second, they are not continous use stations.

So Californians are back to square one. They know they’re going to have a problem next summer (6 months from now) and the solution is… legislative bullshit. Y’all need to think about letting your legislators know this is not acceptable.

That’s true, but surely you remember all the times when we were just on the verge of having black-outs. It would be wise to implement some policy change before we get back to having them on a regular basis. And since you live in Gilroy, you can probably appreciate what would happen in summer if you lost your A/C. It can easily be 10 degrees hotter there than up on the peninsula.

Point taken. Although some of the rolling blackout threats seemed to be pure theatrics, an excess of caution. But calling summer blackouts “common” just doesn’t seem right to me.

Hey, I lived in south SJ (Almaden) for years, Gilroy is a walk in the park, despite the reputation for heat. East Bay is tons worse. :slight_smile:

deleted due posted in wrong thread.

It would be wiser to fix the problem. If your car wheel is broken you don’t alter the road to accomodate it. If there is a shortage of power then increase the available power or increase efficiency. Don’t take deny people their electricity. It’s like California is a 3rd world country. This is not rocket science.

I have to be very careful of what I say…

I’ve been hired by a specific entity in California who is faced with a corporate mandate that they shall not buy ANY out of state power which comes from coal, and they refuse to build any new generation of any kind in the State of California. So they want to kill their contracts buying power from coal plants outside of California.

They hired me, and several others from other companies, to tell them how they could do this.

Our analysis, sadly, is “shut off power to about 1 million customers, give or take, and you’re good to go. Also, you can’t run all these great big irrigation pumps any more, so these tens of thousands of acres of cropland are going to revert to desert. Oh yeah, and hope that the population in your service area decreases suddenly.”

They naturally find this to be objectionable, so, they are trying to find some way to make the impossible happen. In part, one of those ways is to reduce the demand, and they are one of the folks pressing for control over the thermostats.


Around here, we have a voluntary thermostat control program. The carrot is that you get a free programmable thermostat installed, which is only a cheap $60 or so unit. The stick is…every single person I know who has had one installed has complained that the electric company seems to set their thermostat much too high in the summer, and they often come home to a house in the summer which is from 80-85F and humid inside. AFAIK once you join the program, there’s no easy way to back out of it.

The concept of programmable thermostats and high setbacks is great. If everyone in California bought a programmable thermostat on their own and used a high setback during the day, it would make a profound drop in electric use. But, for reasons I alluded to in my programmable thermostat thread, many people still just won’t do it.