Can The Utility Company Control Your Heat This Winter In New York
Autumn has arrived in the northeast and as temperatures begin to cool off, a lot of us are thinking about if it's time to turn the heat on.
Now, while we may see a mini-fall heatwave or two before winter really sets in, we all know it's pretty much downhill from here weatherwise.
Before you kick on that furnace for the season, make sure you take some of these important steps in your house to help make things a little bit more energy efficient.
After you do those things, I guess that means you're ready to change that thermostat to heat mode and crank up the heat. However, you want to make sure you're paying attention to what is happening in the energy markets.
Energy costs across the state are expected to increase by at least double this year, and there may even be shortages in energy supply. That includes natural gas, heating oil, propane, and maybe even firewood.
With those pricing increases and potential shortages, there also comes the possibility that officials from New York State will take steps to try and control usage.
In other states, those steps have even included taking control over people's electronic and/or digital thermostats.
Can The Government or a Utility Company Take Control Over Your Thermostat?
Believe it or not, some utility companies across the country have the ability to control your thermostat and you may have given them that power and you don't even know it.
That's what happened to more than 20,000 people in Colorado earlier this year when a heatwave and energy shortage resulted in the local energy company locking thousands of Denver area residents out of there thermostat. When those folks went to turn on their air conditioners, they found out they had no control over the temperature in their house.
The people in question gave their energy company the ability to take control of their thermostats in exchange for a discount on their energy bills. Officials said that people signed up voluntarily, but it makes me wonder if it was explained to people that they could lose control over their heating and/or cooling systems.
Can This Happen In New York State?
New York State and every utility company in the state operate similar programs to the one described above.
According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, which is the state energy department, yhe Smart Thermostat Pilot program offers discounted energy prices and even free electronic thermostats at no cost in exchange for participating in their ConnectedSolutions Program.
ConnectedSolutions allows your smart thermostat to slightly adjust your home temperature and temporarily reduce energy use during peak energy events.
If you don't want to lose control over your thermostat like those folks in Colorado did, I would suggest you double and triple-check your energy bill to make sure you didn't inadvertently sign up for one of these programs. Because if you have, you may have given your utility company the ability to control and adjust your thermostat.
Hopefully, you won't be in for any surprises this year.