Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Power United States

California Utilities to Control Thermostats? 503

TeraBill writes "It seems that the California Energy Commission is looking to give utilities in the state the power to control the thermostats in private homes via a radio signal. The idea is that during times of significant energy crunch, the utilities could force thermostats to higher temperatures rather than having to implement a rolling blackout. The thermostats have been around for a while and new ones were on display at the CES show in Vegas this week. While I can see the argument for it, we just had a kid take over a tram system with a remote control, so how long before our thermostat gets hacked by the neighbors. And I'd almost rather have the power drop than have someone significantly raise the temperature in my home if I had a computer running there. (UPS and a graceful shutdown versus cooking something.)"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

California Utilities to Control Thermostats?

Comments Filter:
  • This seems like a reasonable idea if there's not enough power to go around.

    If you want to make your computer shut down when the temperature gets too hot, you could probably rig something up.
    • Re:Reasonable idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:47AM (#22012788)
      This is very old technology here in Canterbury New Zealand where the power companies have controlled water heating during the morning and evening peaks. It was done by injecting audio tones into the mains supply. The technology actually originated in WW2 in London to control the air-raid sirens.
    • Re:Reasonable idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by caitriona81 ( 1032126 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ytrehguads}> on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:04AM (#22012872) Journal
      Here's an idea. Instead of the current typical 200amp service, everybody gets a 20amp service that is "always on", and a 200 amp service that's subject to rolling blackouts. That gives consumers the power to choose what loads will be shit down. It would be a little more complex for metering, but, much more effective, and easier to "convince" homeowners to retrofit. (Look... we can give you SOME power that doesn't go out...).

      • Re:Reasonable idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @08:44AM (#22013430)
        Here's another idea: Create some competition to SDGE, and the first time they start turning off my A/C during the summer watch me switch to a new provider who builds an infrastructure that can keep up with demand and is willing to provide the energy I pay for.
        • Re:Reasonable idea (Score:4, Insightful)

          by loshwomp ( 468955 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:02PM (#22014884)
          Here's another idea: Create some competition to SDGE, and the first time they start turning off my A/C during the summer watch me switch to a new provider who builds an infrastructure that can keep up with demand and is willing to provide the energy I pay for.

          This is the sort of naive, knee-jerk reaction that makes sense when you don't understand how the grid works.

          Yes, of course we can build more infrastructure, and we may have to, but that's not what TFA is about. TFA is about a solution to high peak loads. Building more infrastructure (generation and transmission) is an expensive solution, especially when you only need it for a few hours per day.

          Automatic load shedding, on the other hand (the solution proposed in TFA) moves energy use away from the peaks, allowing greater overall utilization of the existing infrastructure. There are pilot programs in many places already, and you will pay lower rates for your (voluntary) participation. It's very unlikely that you'll ever be forced to participate in such a program against your will.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by aurispector ( 530273 )
          Hear, hear! Some of the other ideas are ok- getting a discount for adding a relay, etc., so long as there is a payback for lack of service, however none of them address the root of the problem. Where I live, the utilities have an agreement with some local high-consumption industrial facilities to shut down during peak consumption times like heat waves. No further measures have been needed.

          What I just can not believe is that people are actually putting up with the kind of bullshit they are shoveling in Ca
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by stonecypher ( 118140 )

            Why aren't they screaming to get more power plants built?

            They are. It's NIMBY syndrome. Everyone wants the voltage, but nobody wants to live near a power plant. The coal fumes or the nuclear risk or the whatever's wrong with gas are all too scary. That's why the state has its solar programs: after state-run rebates, you can get solar basically for free. Why? Because people will actually do it. Don't get me wrong, I hate SDG&E with a passion. But, the infrstructure problem isn't their fault. The

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by arivanov ( 12034 )
        Makes quite a lot of sense. It will require rewiring most homes though.
        • Re:Reasonable idea (Score:4, Interesting)

          by goaliemn ( 19761 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:39AM (#22014116) Homepage
          Here, in Minnesota, I have this already in my house. Hooked up to my air conditioner is a relay that the power company can shut down during peak usage time. I get a discount on my bill for having it (10 or 15% during the summer) and they only shut it off for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time, no more than once every 2 hours, so it doesn't have any major impact on the temp of my house.
      • very similar to how offices are frequently wired. one AC outlet (often different color) is the UPS feed and the other is regular 'house current'. you put the CRT display on house current and the cpu and drives (etc) on the UPS backed-up circuit.
      • Instead of rewiring entire houses, howabout smart sockets/plugs that can respond to remote signals.
    • Re:Reasonable idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:49AM (#22013110)
      No, this is a terrible idea.

      If there's not enough power to go around, build up the infrastructure. I pay for a service. You provide it. How many decades do you have to suffer poor infrastructure problems before you finally start investing in it? How the hell do you run a business (and it is) by providing only what your current systems can handle and to hell with a growing demand for those services in the future? Imagine if the phone company had decided that, instead of requiring you to dial the area code every time you make a call, they had simply said "sorry, no more phone lines!" and decided not to invest in any sort of build-out whatsoever?

      This whole "oh my god, not enough power" thing is fine for a year or two, when it catches you off guard. Its' quite another more than a decade later.
      • Re:Reasonable idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by knghtrider ( 685985 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @08:40AM (#22013406) Homepage
        >If there's not enough power to go around, build up the infrastructure.

        The power generation infrastructure suffers from too much 'NIMBY'. I lived in Indiana for years, and during the 90's; Duke power wanted to build several 'Peak Power' generation plants fired by Natural Gas. Every time they tried to get permits, the 'NIMBY' (Not In My Back Yard) crowd showed up and whined to the elected officials. Naturally, fearing a loss of votes elected officials caved.

        California is in much the same state; They haven't been able to build a power plant (thanks to the NIMBY's) for at least 2 decades. Now, they are suffering for it. Back in 2001, the DOE estimated that the US would need around 1900 power plants built by the year 2021. Yes, they've built wind farms, but now they're finding that the Wind Farms are killing Raptors and causing infestations of rats. []

        There is no easy answer--Conservation by us will help some, but ultimately we need clean, cheap power. On NUMB3RS last night, they were looking at putting up Solar Panels on Charlies house; which on a nice bright sunny day would generate more than what they used. IIRC, they were looking at some really cutting edge technology stuff. Currently, the break even point is about 12-18 years, but this company looks really promising. [] At their cost of $1/watt it cuts the break even by as much as 66%.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by raju1kabir ( 251972 )

      If you want to make your computer shut down when the temperature gets too hot, you could probably rig something up.

      I doubt it's even necessary.

      Where I live it's 90F and 85+% humidity 365 days a year, and I absolutely never use air conditioning. Just leave the windows open and turn on a ceiling fan and it's perfectly nice. If I am leaving my computer on while I go out during the hottest part of the day, I leave a desk fan (on low setting) pointed at it, and it's never overheated yet.

      Not many people live

      • by hjf ( 703092 )
        Where I live it's often 42C and my server stays in a storage room (under a tin roof, with foam insulation that doesn't seem to do anything). It has an athlon64 and 4 500GB drives (ZFS array). The only time it shut down was when the chipset fan failed and the BIOS detected the overheating and shut down the machine. Sure, the case has 120mm fans and all but they're just pumping warm air.

        The OP is stupid and obviously has never been inside a data center. They're much warmer than your average house. Indeed, the
    • Why stop there? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HangingChad ( 677530 )

      This seems like a reasonable idea...

      Then lets apply it in a lot more places. Remote locks on refrigerators when you've eaten enough for the day. Or cut off your water when you've used your quota. Maybe a machine that dispenses your cigarettes for the day ala 5th Element. Maybe the government thinks you should exercise more so they regulate your TV time. Because, let's face it, a technical solution is just so much more effective than education.

      Every really insane piece of regulation started with a

    • Re:Reasonable idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:24AM (#22014014) Journal

      This seems like a reasonable idea if there's not enough power to go around.
      No, a reasonable idea would be to raise prices to reduce demand until you can build some friggin power plants! This is what happens when you dick with the free market, it stops working!
    • It's a bad idea that's very close to a good idea. Remotely controlled thermostats for ten million houses would be a systems nightmare. How the heck would you debug that system, anyway?

      Thegood idea, however, would be to have time-dependent pricing on power. Power production is very expensive at some times of day, typically mid-day during the air-conditioning season, and very cheap at other times of day, in fact, nearly cost-free from midnight to 5 AM, when the power plants are still turning over but nob

  • by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @06:47AM (#22012790) Journal
    ..remember that California is HOT. The thermostats referred to are connected to air conditioning, not, as I first thought, heating systems!

    • by teslar ( 706653 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:00AM (#22012842)

      The thermostats referred to are connected to air conditioning
      Thanks for the info, now it actually makes sense to me. Here I was, wondering how exactly turning the heating up would help with reducing electricity...

      So I guess that does make the idea a lot more reasonable, although I would still rather feel that if your power grid can't always deal with the electricity demand, then it's the power grid that needs updating - on the other hand, this probably both cheaper and more enviromentally friendly.

      That leaves the one concern then: hacking of the system, especially since this is wireless. If the idea is to turn air conditioning down to reduce the strain on the power grid, then bad guys can use the same system and turn the air conditioning up to crash the grid. And what does TFA say about the possibility of hacking?

      That is not possible, said Nicole Tam, a spokeswoman for P.G.& E. who works with the pilot program in Stockton. Radio pages "are encrypted and encoded," Ms. Tam said
      Yeah right, like that's ever stopped anyone. Also, what is the difference between encrypted and encoded?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rick17JJ ( 744063 )

      That reminds me of something that happened at a college back in the 1970s during the energy crisis, when everyone was asked to save energy by lowering their thermostats to 68 degrees. I was taking some classes at a Junior College in Arizona at the time. They lowered the thermostats to 68 degrees during the winter to save energy, as requested, and then several weeks later they discovered that the air conditioning system had come on automatically to get the building down to 68 degrees.

      Will these proposed

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) *
        It's interesting that you bring up the 70's. I am reminded that back in the 70's, when Jimmy Carter was president, he proposed and had passed, several laws that were meant to force conservation of oil and gas and to get us off our addiction to foreign oil.

        All of these laws were repealed by the Reagan Administration, but if they had stayed in effect, who knows what improvement they might have brought to our current situation, in terms of overall carbon emissions and in geo-political terms.

        Hell, if we'd have
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by amRadioHed ( 463061 )

          Now that I think about it, he also brokered a peace agreement with Israel and Egypt that has never been broken, not once in more than 30 years.
          See, that's where he lost the Republicans. Why would you encourage peace between two countries that purchase arms from you? That just doesn't make sense.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Reziac ( 43301 ) *
        My house is over 50 years old, and was built before houses in CA were insulated at all. There is NONE in the walls (the R-35 in the attic I put there myself), and it has single-pane windows, because that's how houses were built back then. After all, this is California, we don't need no steenkin' insulation!

        Now, I've priced having the house updated (insulation blown into the walls, replace all the windows with double-pane models). Total cost would be somewhere around $10,000. (Somewhat higher if it were done
    • In the UK, you can already turn on and off peoples' storage-heaters by remote control. []

      Have there been any stories of this system being "hacked"? All you need to do is create a longwave transmitter that's more powerful than the BBC (and it's on the same frequency as a popular radio channel, so your jammer would be noticed by anyone who listens to the radio). Of course, cryptographic signing has become popular since then and might be used in new systems.
  • Horrible... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:00AM (#22012844)
    By the time they've got this in everyone's home, intruding in their lives like some third world dictatorship rationing bread, they could have built a new nuclear power plant or two.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KefabiMe ( 730997 )

      A lot of people here seem mad that the government is controlling people's thermostats. THIS IS NOT THE CASE!!!

      I suspect this is similar to a program Southern California Edison already has in place. If you are a homeowner, you can have Edison install a remote kill switch to your A/C unit. Then, during the summer, Edison can cut your A/C for 30 minutes to 4 hours.


      • This program is completely VOLUNTARY
      • The homeowner chooses the maximum time they want their A/C to be cut. You can tell Edison to cut your A
  • by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:07AM (#22012884) []

    Having everyone pulling power willy-nilly from a facility with limited output is a dumb idea. Regulating a more even amount of power to everyone is smarter.
    • by WK2 ( 1072560 )
      There is a big difference between what you link to, and what California proposes. California proposes that every new home built, and every home with major modifications be forced to include one of these thermostats. City of Ames electric department offers a $5 discount to everyone who allows them to install a remote-control thermostat.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Seumas ( 6865 )
      Both are stupid ideas.

      Having everyone pulling power from a properly built infrastructure so that it can handle said demand is ideal. I don't know how long California has been having this problem, but it has been at least ten years and if you can't at least begin to increase your services in a decade, then you don't deserve to be in business.

      It's not like the energy isn't available. They just don't have the power grid to handle it. Rather than Orwell-ing me, how about improving your damn services?
    • Around here ... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward a northern state, we pay for the power we use. So, if we use more, we pay more. It's a pretty simple model and it works real well. I suppose in a socialist society, it is a problem because only a few are paying for everyone's power and so they do have to ration it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Adversive ( 159469 )
        Californians pay for the power they use just like you. They also probably pay more per kW/h.

        The problem is that during certain high-demand summer days, California's grid infrastructure cannot provide enough electricity to meet the demand. People are upset because California has not been more aggressive about improving the power grid or building new power plants.
  • by ScottBob ( 244972 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:08AM (#22012892)
    They already have a system like this in place in south Louisiana, some electricity co-ops use load management terminals, which look like a separate electric meter connected to the air conditioner. On hot summer days, they'll shut off the A/C for up to half an hour, to prevent overload to the grid and save money. They don't shut everybody's A/C off at once, they "roll" the shutoffs through the neighborhoods. It can be a bit of an inconvenience because of the temperature rise in your house, but if your house is well insulated, you won't notice it that much. The system is totally voluntary, and you even get a minor rebate on your electric bill.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      It can be a bit of an inconvenience because of the temperature rise in your house, but if your house is well insulated, you won't notice it that much.

      You notice it, like I did, when the condensing unit is powered down and powered back on too quickly and it trips the circuit breaker causing the house's temperature to rise to 88 degrees (with only a dog inside) while you're at work. When you get home, reset the circuit breaker, and attempt to get the house's temperature to something more reasonable, you cann
  • State control of my thermostat does not sound at all like a good idea to me. Granted, FTFA it's only a four degree swing, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to give up that sort of control. Who sets how low to go? Would I have to or be able to compensate by setting my thermostat higher? Seems that if I'm cold, I'm going to set the temp to where I like it, "the state" be damned. I'll determine what my threshold is concerning how much I want to pay verses how much comfort I want to have, thankyouverymuch.

    OTOH I'
    • I agree. If there isn't enough power to go around then it's a limited resource and they should be charging more. Actually, they are charging more. A few years ago I was able to reduce my power bill by $100 a month (from $200 down to $100) just by turning off my computer at night. But, if they are still running out of power then they should either build another plant or charge even more for energy.
      • by tubs ( 143128 )
        They should be building more power stations.

        Except shareholders are unlikely to accept a 30 year return of investment.
        • by jamesh ( 87723 )

          They should be building more power stations.

          Why would that be a good solution? Putting more carbon into the air isn't going to make the temperature any cooler!

          I think they'd be better off just charging more for electricity (with concessions for those who really need it but can't afford it). If you want AC then you'd better be prepared to pay for it. People lived without it in the past. At the moment, taking steps to save electricity doesn't really save you a noticeable amount of $$$. If the price went up a

      • A few years ago I was able to reduce my power bill by $100 a month (from $200 down to $100) just by turning off my computer at night.

        Was that computer a Beowulf cluster or something? Over here, electricity is about EUR 0.22/kWh. EUR 70 per month for 12 hours per day would mean you have a 900 W computer, or maybe 600 W plus 300 W for the airconditioning.

    • by Latent Heat ( 558884 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @09:41AM (#22013760)
      You can always hack that 4-degree swing in the thermostat. Too warm? Use a blow dryer to "persuade" your thermostat that it is too warm to get the AC to kick in.
  • by butlerdi ( 705651 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:16AM (#22012936)
    And I'd almost rather have the power drop than have someone significantly raise the temperature in my home if I had a computer running there

    What the hell you running in there ? California, with the exception of the Central Valley and a few deserts (not all that populated) is not all that hot. I have run almost all forms of workstations sans AC in 40C + weather with no adverse effects.
  • by Erpo ( 237853 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:16AM (#22012938)
    This is a fundamentally broken system, like the cable companies relying on cable modems (in the customers' houses) to limit the amount of data customers can upload into the network per second. Uncapping, anyone? Unless the meters get smarter, "uncapping" a thermostat would be easy and very hard to detect.

    Instead, why not plan properly so that electricity shortages don't happen?

    As an aside, I don't think many people will take kindly to having their thermostats adjusted by an outside force. Being told "no" by technology tends to make people angry, even if it's for the greater social good. Ever seen a person get mad at a red traffic light? They don't realize that a red traffic light is not "the man" telling them no. It's a helpful, sensible warning that the cross traffic has a green light.

  • faraday? (Score:5, Funny)

    by PrinceAshitaka ( 562972 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:20AM (#22012964) Homepage
    Looks like the prefect use for a faraday cage.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:24AM (#22012988) Homepage Journal
    Quite a while back, maybe ten years ago or so, I read that the Electric Power Research Institute was proposing that each power and light socket have a unique IP address so that they could be remotely controlled by the power company, for the same reason as given here - to reduce consumption at peak times, and to prevent rolling blackouts.

    That wasn't feasible at the time, as they would have quickly run out of available addresses, but now with IPv6 that's not such a problem anymore. I expect that the proposal will resurface again soon.

    • "what's that noise?"

      "its the machine that goes PING!"

      "where is it?" where is that sound coming from??"

      "its in all our wall sockets, mate. nothing you can do about it." ;)

    • I expect a torrent of lawsuits to follow when people had the power sockets their computers are connected to shut down, losing unsaved work. It'l probably end in a class-action lawsuit that will prevent power companies from limiting user consumption in any way for the next twenty years.
    • Oh... I want. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tatarize ( 682683 )
      Oh, I want that. Seriously the ability to monitor every wall socket and tell how much power drain each one is taking. Code up some optimization routines, give access to the power company to certain appliances in my house and get a little kickback money-wise.

      So long as they don't know what they are turning off, I get something for the added inconvenience, and I specifically give them access rights myself: I have no qualms with that.

      Though a massive solar array in death valley would probably be easier... it g
  • by gerardlt ( 529702 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:26AM (#22012992)
    There already exists devices for dropping loads when the supply frequency droops - a sign that the generation is not meeting the load. These are designed specifically for areas where generation will occasionally be insufficient, like developing countries. Now that North America is in the same boat (and the rest of the 'western' world is probably going to follow the same course), why not start using these things.

    It wouldn't be hard to develop a small micro-controller driven box that would watch the mains supply frequency and apply small adjustments to a thermostat setting as required.
  • by Iloinen Lohikrme ( 880747 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:33AM (#22013026)

    You know the one thing that I really don't understand is saving energy via force, and not via using technology. Actually I really don't understand the whole drive to just save energy as saving energy doesn't necessarily even mean saving environment. We have the technology, we have had for long, to solve all our energy problems without sacrificing environment or economy. So why not build more nuclear power? It's environmentally friendly and economic. From western countries, France and Finland are both building new next generation plants, British government is leaning on building more and even in Sweden, who after the Chernobyl, made an alarmist decision to give up nuclear power, is starting to discuss on reverting that decision.

    So why not? Why not build more capacity to California and other parts of US? That way you could have your all the energy you need in low price and in time you could shut down your coal and oil power generation plants and take part in struggle against global warming. That would be a real solution to a problem, not a act to play more time, as is this proposition to take over the thermostats.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mike89 ( 1006497 )

      So why not? Why not build more capacity to California and other parts of US?

      It's not cost effective. I'm from Australia, but I feel I can still answer your question because my father has worked in the electricity industry and explained it all to me as a kid. Here in Melbourne, we have a few days a year of blackouts, typically. This is because in the peak of summer, the grid gets overloaded and rolling blackouts are implemented. Now, for the rest of the year, capacity is plentiful - the few days of overload

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

      So why not? Why not build more capacity to California and other parts of US?

      Because that capacity is only needed for a very short period annually, which means the amortized cost of the plants in extremely high - far too high to afford. Kinda like buying a brand new pickup truck, and then only using it to purchase your Christmas tree and a couple of weeks later to haul it away.

      Like most systems, the power grid is designed handle the maximum average load - not the maximum possible spikes. Even if w

  • In South Africa (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hedleyroos ( 817147 )
    We don't call it "rolling blackouts" - we call it "load shedding".

    Actually we (the public) don't call it that. Eskom, the only electricity supplier (who just managed to hike rates by 14%) call it that. And the blackouts, sorry, load shedding, take place at random times. This results in businesses like small theatres without the means to buy generators sometimes losing lots of money, and Eskom can't be sued.

    This post is sounding like a parody of "in Soviet Russia", but the sad thing is it is not.
  • How long before... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sd1248 ( 671744 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @07:54AM (#22013142)
    How long people start pointing hair dryers at or placing heat packs over their thermostats?

    Anytime time some one further regulates our lives someone will find a way around it. The best way to control demand for a limited resource is to increase the price during peak periods. Once the price gets high enough people will actually start to see the cost savings in turning down the air conditioning or better insulating their houses.

    I prefer a cooler temperature however I have spent a lot of money insulating my house and only run the air conditioning in the one room I am using. I use less power than people with uninsulated houses that air condition every room even when their thermostat is set a few degrees higher.
    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      Or you could not let the thermostat installation team in through the door.

      This isn't the East German government. You don't have to let them in. They're not going to report you to the Stasi.

  • One way or another, the electric company is going to reduce your power usage in a power emergency, either by raising thermostats or shutting off your power. The former is certainly a preferable alternative to the latter.
  • deadly to humans (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @08:00AM (#22013180)
    My wife takes medication that makes her very sensitive to heat. In her state of health, raising the temperature could kill her.

    No way they'll put that in without me having a backup (as we do now).
  • I'm not sure I'd want to be making too many complaints to the electricity company about my power bill. They could make things pretty uncomfortable for you if they took a disliking to you!
  • Let those who want to participate do so, those that don't want to to also do so and for those who find at times exception to participation, but otherwise would participate, the ultimate control.

    Everyone pays for what they use, here in atlanta with teh water issues, more and more are turning to rain collection systems and the same do it yourself attitude can be applied regarding power.
  • Economics? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OgreChow ( 206018 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @08:31AM (#22013352)
    Simple way to accomplish the same means: raise the price during peak hours. Works for cell phones, right?
  • by micheas ( 231635 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @08:48AM (#22013452) Homepage Journal
    In California If you produce more electricity than your use from the solar panels on your house you not only don't get to sell your excess electricity at wholesale rates you just get credits that expire on your anniversary of having net metering. This is unlike Germany where you get to sell your excess solar generated electricity at retail prices.

    Basically PG&E is going to make about $2,000 dollars off of me because I don't use enough electricity. (maybe I need to move some pizza boxes from the office to home, no I can hear the fans in the other room at work even with the door closed)

    The only debate we are having is to replace the hot water heaters or the stove with electric instead of gas so that we can increase our electric usage.

    California has an electricity shortage and many of their residents are scaling back solar installations and or scheming to use more electricity and they are going to install stupid devices that can be defeated by walking down to the drugstore and getting an instant heat pad to put on the thermostat. (Of course the real nerds will put a second thermostat on the hair dryer that is pointed at the radio controlled thermostat and have it blow hot air at the thing to get the house cool. I guess I need to go patent a really obvious design and get manufacturing lined up if this stupid nanny state regulation gets passed.

    Gee this a bad idea that has an obvious workaround by the dishonest and has lots of room for kickbacks and ignores the cause of the problem, I give it about an 80% chance of passing if the elected officials in Sacramento get paid their bribes^w campaign contributions.
  • I don't want my t-stat to have an ip addr. I don't want my CAR to have an ip addr. I don't want ANYONE mucking around in my gear or my life, remotely, for some 'greater good'.

    everytime there is a bright idea about how to control other peoples' lives, its usually horribly thought out and defective by design.

    the only POSSIBLE way this would work is if there was a priority scheme where SOME non-critical things would be remotely controlled and some things always left locally admin'd. but that won't work as w
    • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *
      California not not equal the US.

      They've known about their electricity supply problems for years now. This is a solution they came up with.

      It doesn't surprise me, and it shouldn't surprise anyone who knows California. Or dealt with Californians moving into their community.
  • by goofy183 ( 451746 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:21PM (#22015082)
    MG&E in Wisconsin has been offering this as a voluntary service for a while: []

    The idea is you get a $25 credit for having this installed and then $8/hour of shutoff time and they specific times when they will not shut off your AC. I've seriously thought about it since the possible shutoff times are pretty much while I'm at work.
  • Communism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by minion ( 162631 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @12:43PM (#22015320)
    Anyone pick up on the very obvious communist statement:
      Dr. Rosenfeld said. If you can control rotating outages by letting everyone in the state share the pain, he said, theres a lot less pain to go around.
    First they're going to tell us what lightbulbs we're allowed to use, now this?
    You know how many old/infirm people die every year due to the heat or cold?
    Another poster had it right: We pay for a service, make the #(*& service perform like its supposed to. Stop being afraid of atom energy and build more reactors. Right now, its the safest form of energy with the greatest amount of return we can produce.
  • by dindi ( 78034 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @02:24PM (#22016476)
    OK, I do not want on-star start and stop my car, lo-jack to see where I go, or the power company control my thermostats.

    Seriously. The US has to educate its citizens not to over-use energy by cooling their homes to 22C. I understand that airco is necessary in offices or workspaces, even homes at warm climates, but what is the point of moving to Miami when you have to wear winter jackets because you can freeze to death in: malls, restaurants, cars and buses, everywhere else.

    Most of the US people I know down here (in Costa Rica) maintain sub 22C in their offices, then they wonder why they have allergy, cough all the time and have cold symptoms. All this at 1200m height where in a properly built house you do not need airco at all. It is sunshine out there, middle of the dry season, and I have several computers running in a room (yes I am working on all of them, and they go offline when I am done).

    OH, if you come down here to visit the beaches: get a room without air-conditioning so you can enjoy the tropics as they are.

    PS: I do not mean to flame anyone, I really mean that the airco overuse has to go!
  • by jroysdon ( 201893 ) on Saturday January 12, 2008 @10:05PM (#22020718) Homepage
    We already have this in Modesto Irrigation District [] for at least 4 years. It's optional at this point, but I've signed up for it every place I've lived. You get a $5/month credit during the 5 peak months for letting them install this box on your AC unit. Basically, during peak times they can tell your AC to not run for up to 15 minutes per hour. So it's not like you're without AC. For 45 minutes it's on, for 15 off, and so on, and only during peak times. With a regular fan (the kind on a stand that moves left to right, right to left, repeat) pushing the air around you don't even notice it.
  • Old news. Southern California Edison has been offering the ability to do this for awhile by adding an external device on the outside compressor... []

    As others have noted, this is also done by other utility companies throughout the U.S. too. For instance, Austin Energy (in Texas) also offers a radio controlled thermostat program: []

APL hackers do it in the quad.