Can Your Smart Thermostat be Altered Remotely by Strangers?

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Written by Bernie Carr

Many states, including Texas, have been experiencing a heat wave during the past few weeks. But imagine if you set your thermostat to cool your home to 65 degrees when you go to bed at night, then you wake up sweating the next morning and find out your thermostat is now set at 80 degrees. Someone outside your home accessed the thermostat and adjusted it without your knowledge. How would you feel about this?

It really happened

This disturbing scenario actually happened to many households in Texas. The power company remotely adjusted this family’s thermostat:

Without anyone touching it, they said their thermostat was changed while they were sleeping, making their home unbearably hot.

“Was my daughter at the point of overheating?” English said. “She’s 3 months old. They dehydrate very quickly.”

His wife received an alert on her phone soon after that. The family said their thermostat had been changed remotely, raising the temperature of their home during a three-hour “energy saving event.”


How was it done?

A few years ago, the energy companies including TXU Energy, CenterPoint and ERCOT offered free smart thermostats to households who were willing to enroll in a program called “Smart Savers Texas,” operated by EnergyHub. I can remember receiving the offer but I figured, there has to be a catch. I also thought if it’s a smart thermostat, then it can potentially get hacked, so I declined the offer.

As it turns out, there is a clause in the agreement’s terms and conditions that states the customer allows the company access to their home thermostat to adjust during high peak times, in exchange for a sweepstakes entry.

Many consumers disenrolled in the program after they found thermostat adjustment was being done.

The power grid is strained yet again

Now that it’s summer, the same power grid that had widespread outages during a dangerous winter freeze is now being strained by the heat wave. It doesn’t appear that improvements have been made to avoid the outages since the winter power failures.

The final word

It would be very disturbing to me if I suddenly find out my thermostat got adjusted remotely. If you have a smart thermostat, be aware of who else may have access to your household’s thermostat. You might find that someone else could adjust it besides yourself.

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About the author:

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.

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