Colorado Residents Lose Control Of Their ‘Smart’ Thermostats, Swelter In 88 Degree Heat

from the I'm-sorry-I-can't-do-that,-Dave dept

During a heat wave last summer, some Texans were shocked to wake up and find that their local energy company had turned up their thermostats in the night to save energy. Houston locals weren’t exactly thrilled to wake up sweating in the night to the sound of dehydrated, crying infants.

As it turns out, consumers has participated in a “sweepstakes” that covertly enrolled them in a program named “Smart Savers Texas” operated by a company called EnergyHub. The fine print for that program effectively turned control of these folks’ smart thermostat to the utility company.

Of course, you wouldn’t need to trick users into giving up control of their thermostats using sweepstakes and mouseprint if the grid was capable of handling fluctuations. And the grid would be able to handle fluctuations if Texas utility regulators hadn’t spent the better part of the last decade fecklessly collapsing in the face of energy sector lobbying pressure time after time.

Last week, the same thing happened again in Colorado. 22,000 Denver residents suddenly found themselves locked out of their own smart thermostats during a heat wave and sweltering in 88 degree temperatures:

“I mean, it was 90 out, and it was right during the peak period,” Talarico said. “It was hot.”

That’s when he saw a message on the thermostat stating the temperature was locked due to an “energy emergency.”

“Normally, when we see a message like that, we’re able to override it,” Talarico said. “In this case, we weren’t. So, our thermostat was locked in at 78 or 79.”

On social media, dozens of Xcel customers complained of similar experiences — some reporting home temperatures as high as 88 degrees.

In this case, customers were enrolled in the Colorado AC Rewards program, which gives them a $100 credit for enrolling and $25 off their bill annually. But it also locks them out of their own thermostat during moments of grid crisis. And while enrolling in the program is voluntarily, it’s pretty clear from news reports that consumer didn’t really know what they were signing up for:

Talarico said he had no idea that he could be locked out of the thermostat. While he has solar panels and a smart thermostat to save energy, he says he did not sign up to have this much control taken away.

“To me, an emergency means there is, you know, life, limb, or, you know, some other danger out there — some, you know, massive wildfires,” Talarico said. “Even if it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon situation, it just doesn’t sit right with us to not be able to control our own thermostat in our house.”

If you somehow hadn’t noticed by now, climate change isn’t going to be pleasant. It’s going to be a continual parade of very dangerous life and death (or limb) situations. And it’s going to be getting exponentially worse, especially in central and Southern states (check out this recent map of the expected spike in consecutive 100 degree days if you haven’t yet).

It’s also going to require folks to make a significant number of concessions they won’t like if we want to, you know, survive. And mandatory systems like these may be part of that, since science, empathy, reason, sacrifice, and collaboration clearly aren’t modern Americans’ strong suits.

At the same time, it’s understandable that people want to control something they own. And a lot of these companies aren’t really making these programs completely clear to consumers, even if consumers may not have the greatest track record when it comes to actually paying attention to what they sign up for.

These are also the same utilities (and in many instances governments) that prioritized profits over infrastructure hardening and climate change mitigation measures for fifty fucking years, and would be more than happy to place the entire onus for adaptation on the backs of consumers and gimmicks, instead of developing more innovative, renewable, adaptive, and resilient energy solutions.

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Comments on “Colorado Residents Lose Control Of Their ‘Smart’ Thermostats, Swelter In 88 Degree Heat”

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59 Comments
samiratou (profile) says:

Reason #5392 why I'm glad I have a dumb house

Our energy company has a “saver switch” for this kind of thing but it’s mounted to the house where the AC power goes in, not connected to our (dumb) thermostat at all. They say it can cycle the AC during peak hot periods, but in however many years that we’ve had the thing, it’s made no noticeable difference on the temperature of our house. Granted, we keep it at 76 most days during the summer because our house is old and leaky, but still. Locking people’s thermostats at 80+ without warning should have some sort of accountability, but what do I know?

Tom says:

I signed up for this in NC

Duke Energy offered me $75 to sign up and $25/year to get into their version of this program on my Ecobee. I signed up, not fully understanding what it was, and when they set my temperature higher the first time I was a bit surprised.

Then I really thought about it and realized that I’m gonna need to get used to higher temps moving forward, and may as well start now. So my thermostat is set to 80 in summer and 62 in winter.

And since I live by myself, I can do that unilaterally and nobody complains.

That said, I did look into how to opt out of the program. At least with Duke, it’s as simple as sending an email with your service address and there’s no penalty for opting back out. I have no doubt they’re far slimier about it down in Howdy Arabia.

Keith Henrickson says:

Not sure of the marketing, but...

I was signed up for a similar program under PG&E in California. It was VERY clear that they had control of your Air Conditioner, as they installed a box directly to the side of the air conditioner.

There was a website you could go to to opt-out of any particular event, and I know a lot of people signed up for the cash bonus, and then just went ‘skip’, ‘skip’, ‘skip’.

Is that what’s happened here? They wanted the “free” $100, and just planned to skip all the events?

88 degrees sounds high, however. While PG&E did limit my AC from time to time, it never went THAT high.

Anonymous Coward says:

We all know climate change is a scam.

It simply isn’t happening. All those extra hot days are just a coincidence.

Besides, even if it were happening (and it isn’t) and even if it were caused by humans (which is isn’t and it isn’t happening anyway), people could just move to the coast where it’s always moderate, just like I did.
Hey, why is there water in my den?

Scuse me folks, I got to do some mopping.

Hey, why is my yard under water?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Heh, I think I saw this guy making the rounds on the news…
‘This isn’t what we signed up for!’
And my thought was.. wanna bet?
Or did you just see the ‘free’ thermostat and cash back & sign without reading further…

Admittedly some other people were reporting the temps jumping around, locking and unlocking etc etc… so it seems like there are some bugs in the program.

“To me, an emergency means there is, you know, life, limb, or, you know, some other danger out there — some, you know, massive wildfires,”

Well as it was done when they lost a whole section of their grid, perhaps you would have enjoyed being in the dark with no air at all instead?

The grid sucks, and until they are forced to you won’t be seeing many upgrades… (just ask PG&E how that works).

I mean some tree limbs left a large portion of the US in the dark for way longer than anyone thought it shoudl take to get it back up because there was a running list of things not being maintained or upgraded to avoid the problem because that costs money.

Ivan says:

Re: Perception of Emergency

“To me, an emergency means there is, you know, life, limb, or, you know, some other danger out there — some, you know, massive wildfires,”

I read that and thought about Y2K and the self-defeating prophecy problem. He only thinks that his power would go out to mitigate a catastrophe. The situation he lists would likely result in their power being offline for weeks. The action by the power company likely prevented them from losing all their power, and most importantly neither did the hospital. The expectation that dwellings will be 70 degrees year round is rapidly becoming unrealistic.

Anonymous Coward says:

The article says the thermostat was locked to 78 degrees. If your house is 88 when the thermostat is set to 78, your problem is not the energy saving program. Your problem is the AC is no longer sized for the climate you live in. This seems to be common in Denver as it just didn’t use to get so hot.

These programs are a perfectly reasonable way to blunt the short term peaks, as long as the community addressing the long term trend of climate change. The version where I live is very clear that they will change and may lock your thermostat, and it saves even the people who don’t enroll in the program money by blunting peak demand.

egftechman (profile) says:

Re: EXACTLY

In fact, smart thermostats without utility directives actually add emissions and grid instability.
If everyone has their smart thermostats cool down their house before they come home from work, all of a sudden there is a large number of air conditioners (or electric heat in winter time) at 4:00 PM, which is coincident with the “natural” daily peak demand period, causing more “dirty” peak generation to be used and stressing transmission systems.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

In fact, smart thermostats without utility directives actually add emissions and grid instability.

Do you have a citation for that?

If everyone has their smart thermostats cool down their house before they come home from work, all of a sudden there is a large number of air conditioners (or electric heat in winter time) at 4:00 PM

That’s only really true if everyone programs them for that time, and they all come on at the same time, which hardly seems “smart” to me. Maybe we need to get Energy Star or the power companies more involved. It would make more sense to say what temperature (or range) you want, when, and let the thermostat figure out how to do it without stressing the grid. If you’re gonna be home at 5:00, you’d set that as the time, and the thermostat could begin cooling at some semi-random time maybe 15-60 minutes in advance.

Something “smart” should also be learning about daily patterns, caused by solar exposure among other things. It’ll differ from home to home, adding variability to the electrical usage even if people don’t use any scheduling feature.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Something “smart” should also be learning about daily patterns

Also, thermostats usually use (24-volt) alternating current, which means they could theoretically detect the grid frequency. And maybe should: the frequency drops below nominal when the grid’s overloaded, and goes above when oversupplied, which would let them defer or advance operation with no internet connection needed. (A “standard” frequency target is ±0.05% of nominal, and “time error correction” changes the magnitude by 0.02 Hz at most. Grid failure happens around ±1.5%, and most “smart” equipment should probably refuse to operate as those boundaries are approached.)

egftechman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Do you have a citation for that?

I say that first hand as a electric distribution utility operator. Everyone cooling their house down in late afternoon (16:00 was just an arbitrary time I picked, around the time people start coming home from work/school and the thermostat senses there are people in the home) add to the late afternoon peak that already “organically” occurs, from the overlap of people doing things at home and businesses still running. When peak generation needs to be dispatched quickly, it comes from thing like gas turbines and diesel engines, which add to emissions produces by electricity generation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2

I say that first hand as a electric distribution utility operator. Everyone cooling their house down in late afternoon (16:00 was just an arbitrary time I picked, around the time people start coming home from work/school and the thermostat senses there are people in the home)

Sure, that all makes sense, but I don’t see how a smart thermostat inherently makes it worse. If they’re currently making it worse, which you’d know more about than I, that just means they suck right now: a common theme for things that claim to be “smart”.

In the absolute worst case they could disable all “smart” features and work like any other thermostat—in which case the air conditioners would still come on when people get home and produce heat or manually change it. But it should be easy to add a bit more randomness than any non-electronic thermostat would get naturally.

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: Re:2 We had a chance

I have never had a thermo-stat, AC or central heating in 70 of my 73 years, or a back door for 48 of those years, and this house is 30 inches above the flood-plane. Now, if i can find the time to nail 400 sq.ft. of dumpster-dived Ovonic PV on this roof…

Oddly, the State of California did a study in the early 1990’s that with the coming E-car, if all electric cars were left hooked to the grid when not in use, California would never need a New grid generation plant. Of course, that was before California gave away the power grid (deregulation) to SCE, PG&E and SDG&E stopped Co-generation across property lines (except Mission Electric, running on flare-off in the Saugus oilfield) GM’s market-killer EV-1 suppository, and Gov. Wilson transferred failed weapons-grade plutonium plant $losses from “Investors” to “Ratepayers”*
P.S. Loved your last paragraph, Karl

*To produce plutonium (unavailable from nature) we boil water with uranium and move the high-level waste to the DOE’s 300 square mile “Savannah River Site”. See the $30b Vogtle 3&4

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

If your house is 88 when the thermostat is set to 78, your problem is not the energy saving program. Your problem is the AC is no longer sized for the climate you live in.

That would cost thousands of dollars to fix. For $25/year, plus $100 once, it would hardly seem “reasonable” to participate in this program, if non-participation can avoid the problem.

Actually, though, I don’t understand your point. “If your house is 88 when the thermostat is set to 78”, it’s also going to be 88 when the thermostat is set to 72, right? Unless the cooling is very uneven, such that it’s “cold enough” at the thermostat and too hot elsewhere—but I don’t see how more cooling capacity would fix that. Moving the thermostat to the hot part of the house will “fix” it while maintaining eligibility for the credit (and depriving the power company of any real benefit, but they’ll never know).

egftechman (profile) says:

They didn't lose control of their thermostats

They signed up for a program with their utility where they get an incentive to allow the utility to control their AC during peak demand periods. It’s called Demand Side Management (DSM), Load Management (LM), or Demand Response (DR) depending on utility. Essentially instead of dispatching x watts of gas turbines or diesel engines (i.e. generation that can be quickly turned on/off) to meet the peak demand, x watts of load is shed to meet current generation capability.

They did not have their air conditioners turned off, but rather they were set to 78-80 degrees F for the few hours. This was the first time they had this level of control in 6 years. Not as dire as they are making it out to be.

I implement, operate, and maintain such systems for an electric utility. We don’t currently have a smart thermostat program but do offer air conditioning and water heating programs where install a remotely controlled relay and we cycle the load during high demand periods (so only like 25% of them are active at any one moment), and our customers seldom notice we are even controlling. I wonder how many of Xcel’s customers would have noticed if there wasn’t a message on their thermostat.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

They didn’t lose control of their thermostats
They signed up for a program with their utility where they get an incentive to allow the utility to control their AC during peak demand periods.

…and which the customers could not easily override; thus, they no longer had control, though perhaps “gave up” would be more accurate than “lost”. My utility company once offered a similar program, but made it clear that people would not give up control. The company could remotely change the thermostat setting, but the customer could walk over and change it right back. Presumably, they expected adjustments to be minor enough that people wouldn’t generally mind, especially if it happens while they’re not home.

Based on the quote “Normally, when we see a message like that, we’re able to override it,” the Colorado people expected the same thing.

They did not have their air conditioners turned off, but rather they were set to 78-80 degrees F for the few hours.

…which caused their air conditioners to turn off for a while, when people wanted them to be on.

Anonymous Coward says:

This isn't new

Energy management discounts have been around for 30 years or more. Smart devices are new, but back in the day they’d just hook a box up to your AC, hot water heater, etc, and control it with signals from the VHF paging network. I’ve never lived anywhere where this is mandatory, it would usually get you a discount on your electric bill.

egftechman (profile) says:

Re: RE: This isn't new

Rural electric coops in North Dakota and Minnesota have been doing this since the 1970s as a way to manage demand peaks to save wholesale costs and also encourage electric appliances so they can pay for the miles of lines between customers.

In fact, the municipal electric utility I work for used to install time clocks on certain loads in exchange for bill credits in the 1970s. That moved to remotely controlled relays (via power line carrier messages) in the 1980s and now is part of the meter mesh network.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

In an energy emergency would you rather have a locked thermostat or rolling blackouts?

That’s not actually the alternative, as this is a voluntary program. If we look at this from the power company’s perspective… would they rather have complete control of a small group of thermostats, or limited influence over a larger group? Or, of course, the illusion of control, ’cause even if this were mandatory, one could override it by jumping a couple of wires or putting a 40-watt “appliance bulb” below the thermostat. (It reminds me of the film Brazil, in which the government goes after a “renegade heating engineer”.)

People who were upset to lose the ability to override can simply forfeit their $25/year credit, and very slightly increase the risk of a rolling blackout. This is similar to the “free-rider problem”, except $25/year instead of “free”. No individual action matters very much, but group behavior does.

Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s another alternative to this, where the customers retain control of their thermostats, but pay a higher price for energy. This encourages the power companies to increase capabilities. I’m not saying how they should produce it, whether it’s to install natural gas plants, or construct a windmill. I’m just pointing out that if customers pay more, then there may be more solutions rather than just “reduce consumption or blackout’.

Yet another possibility is that with increased price, some folks may be continuously aware of their consumption, and would take steps to reduce it. Perhaps by purchasing more energy efficient equipment, or adding insulation. Whatever they decide, it could help reduce the peak load before it becomes an emergency. Sidestep the crisis.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yet another possibility is that with increased price, some folks may be continuously aware of their consumption, and would take steps to reduce it. Perhaps by purchasing more energy efficient equipment, or adding insulation.

Businesses might, but that doesn’t really work for individuals. The average person has very little ability to calculate the long-term savings, and may find it difficult to pay the upfront costs. The equipment-makers and -installers cannot be trusted to give reliable real-world predictions of savings. Even a power company is really only incentivized to decrease peak electricity usage, rather than improving overall energy-efficiency (e.g., pushing people toward gas furnaces might be good for the company, regardless of efficiency).

Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The average person has very little ability to calculate the long-term savings, and may find it difficult to pay the upfront costs.

Perhaps this is an education opportunity. I’m disappointed that for some school systems, kids learn writing, but can’t write a resume for themselves after they graduate. They learn math, but don’t understand how to manage their finances. Maybe alongside some environmental education in a science class, they can get kids to think about this kind of planning for their own future.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

Perhaps this is an education opportunity.

Absolutely, but the USA isn’t known for taking advantage of those, despite them being abundant. If people could calculate that some change would cost $5000 and save them $500/year, anyone who expects to get more than 10 years of usage from it would know they should do it. But, of course, they’d have to have $5000 all at once, or know enough about finances to calculate present and future value while accounting for loan interest, inflation, etc. And a lot of people move more frequently than that, particularly low-income renters to take advantage of “first month free” offers; landlords who aren’t paying utilities usually have no real incentive to change anything. (So, coming back to “education”, our legislators need to know how incentives work too.)

kids learn writing, but can’t write a resume for themselves after they graduate.

I wonder whether that’s a generational thing. I had to figure it out on my own, because I didn’t learn in school and neither parent had ever written one. (Both just kind of “showed up” or “knew people”, and had the appropriate diploma, and there was nothing to negotiate because the unions had done it.)

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Hyman Rosen (profile) says:

Con Ed ran a similar program in New York City a few years ago, for which we signed up. They ended it a few years later, I don’t know why. Maybe NYC didn’t hit peak usage enough for it to matter. It sounds like one of those things environmentalists would push for without having evidence to back it up.

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that when utility companies want their customers to pay for peak capacity, ideologues like Bode will squeal in outrage. They seem to expect that people can reduce their dependence on the grid, with solar or other alternatives, and therefore reduce what they pay to the utility companies, but the companies should still be obligated to provide the same amount of electricity as always during heat waves and such.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that when utility companies want their customers to pay for peak capacity,

One has yo ask why they have not invested in the infrastructure their business needs. Normal people expect utilities to invest part of their income to sustain the business, and react to trends so as to avoid service failures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Their thermostat was locked at 78 or 79 degrees. […] People will be dropping like flies at those Temps.

That was the temperature setting. The temperature was 88 °F (31 °C) in at least one case, which according to the National Weather Service calls for caution or extreme caution, or is dangerous, depending on humidity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If your setting is 78 but the house isnt getting any lower than 88 it wouldnt be any better if you could lower your setting. It would still be 88.

Yeah, there was a comment to that effect above, suggesting that maybe it was 78 at the thermostat and 88 elsewhere. In which case, most people would just go sit near the thermostat; I recall heading to my basement to cool down when I was younger. But maybe they work from home and can’t realistically do it there, or they have mobility problems (a half-decent reason to have a remotely operable thermostat).

The lack of detail around this is a flaw in the reporting. There’s also the concerningly common flaw that it lacks any wider context. They found one person who didn’t expect to be locked out of their thermostat, and they say nothing about how the other 21,999 members of this program reacted.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I would like to note that no one has reported how long the temp was raised on the thermostat.

If your home is properly insulated, it shouldn’t jump from 74 to 88 in 10 minutes.

People were mad they couldn’t override it when they wanted to, which sort of suggests why they enabled the lock out feature. They’ve activated this program before to keep the grid up and people just hit override as fast as they could.

While some people might have been uncomfortable for a little while, again not a whole lot of detail offered about how long it was, keeping the entire grid from crashing after they lost a large chunk is an emergency because no matter how warm they got they would have gotten much warmer had it collapsed blacking everyone out for lord knows how long.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I would like to note that no one has reported how long the temp was raised on the thermostat.

“Xcel confirmed to Contact Denver7 that 22,000 customers who had signed up for the Colorado AC Rewards program were locked out of their smart thermostats for hours on Tuesday.”

A bit vague, but it was long enough for homes to get hot and people to notice their thermostats were locked. Not just 10 minutes or anything like that.

They’ve activated this program before to keep the grid up and people just hit override as fast as they could.

I’m sure a bunch of those houses are empty, or have people who won’t be sufficiently bothered or would have used a setting between the “suggested” value and their own preference. I’d be surprised if more than 30-50% of thermostats had anyone notice the locking, and I see that as something that won’t work over the long term. It “punishes” the people who sign up to help and then don’t help enough—while the majority, who don’t sign up at all, are unaffected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

They get a financial benefit for occasionally having to be uncomfortable to protect more people from much worse happening.

Even the people who don’t sign up still get the financial benefit of deferring grid upgrades. That’s assuming enough people are part of the program. With vaccines, we generally need about 50-90% participation to get herd immunity, and then the rest can free-ride. I don’t know what the equivalent for this thermostat program is.

In either case, ignoring or disparaging the reasons for non-participation might be one’s natural instinct, but it’s unlikely to change things. Xcel needs to seriously consider (i.e. model based on collected data) whether it’s best to have a small group of participants who cannot override, or a larger group some of whom will override. News stories like this are probably not good for signup rates.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re:

I had severe heat exhaustion when I was 20. Just a few minutes from actual heat stroke (and not the hyperbolic kind) when I got treated for it, though the treatment wasn’t up to par, and I had lasting damage from it.

If I am exposed to too high heat for too long, I will literally die. What feels like a pleasantly warm day to you will see me in considerable distress. What feels like a hot day to you, will see me in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

78 doesn’t seem like much to you, but how would you fare at 108? That’s my lot in life, everything feels hotter than it is, with corresponding potential harm, because my body doesn’t regulate internal heat properly anymore.

I have measures in place to prevent that, but a utility company reaching into my home and disabling those measures would literally be attempted murder, if it happened on a sufficiently hot day.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Knowing that you have this health issue, you wouldn’t fall for the shiny save a couple bucks deal when you asked watch the catch was.

These people opted into a program they refused to understand beyond they would save a few bucks.

The first time they were unable to override the temp change sent out to limit demand to manage the network, to not have a much larger problem than what they already had that would screw everyone, they are all upset.

Perhaps those companies selling the natural gas powered generators that take over when the power fails should be looking into selling a unit that will power your HVAC system so no matter what happens to the grid, you can relax at 68.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Perhaps those companies selling the natural gas powered generators that take over when the power fails should be looking into selling a unit that will power your HVAC system so no matter what happens to the grid, you can relax at 68.

That exists. The exact systems you’re describing can do that, if you buy ones that are large enough and hook them up that way. But it wouldn’t make any sense to buy such a system to use while the grid’s still up, to collect a $25/year credit. People who care that much simply won’t sign up, or will sign up and hack it (e.g., temporarily jump red and yellow if it’s hot and you’re locked out).

nerdrage (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: there are a lot of stupid/desperate people

There’s a huge population of people who will take cash now and not think about consequences later, regardless of whether they have health problems. And when it’s 150 degrees out, we’ll all have health problems. Get AC and put solar on your roof. Think about getting off the grid entirely so the moron corporations can’t have any control over your power use.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

These people opted into a program they refused to understand beyond they would save a few bucks.

That makes the assumption that the people signing up didn’t ask about the energy company’s control of their thermostats, but what if they simply weren’t told? You’d be surprised how much more often the latter occur tgan the former. Companies do this sort of shit all the time, which is why I’ve learned not to trust them.

“So you control my thermostat remotely?”
“Only at times of high demand. There are no other differences in how you use it.” says nothing about locking customer out of control of their equipment

OGquaker says:

Re: Complete truthfulness?

Wet your hair, get a fan, take your shirt off
if you have a basement its always cooler down there

Unless you have never seen a “basement”, your Capital-ism produced fan had a 12 month service life built-in, and the high humidity precludes usefull evaporation. So much for the rest of the Earth’s billions of people living in a rain barrel

ML2 (user link) says:

It’s also going to require folks to make a significant number of concessions they won’t like if we want to, you know, survive. And mandatory systems like these may be part of that, since science, empathy, reason, sacrifice, and collaboration clearly aren’t modern Americans’ strong suits.

While this is true, particularly in red (and mostly Southern and Western and therefore particularly at-risk) states, I’d rather see this take the form of government-imposed restrictions than having companies do it of their own accord to unwilling customers. Also, as has been pointed out in the comments here, these thermostat restrictions in particular aren’t without customer safety risks.

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