Will The State Of California Control Your Thermostat?
In what I characterize as a stunningly invasive intrusion into our homes the state is about to mandate that each new home and each newly renovated or remodeled home in California be fitted with a “programmable communicating thermostat” or PCT
What’s being proposed is a revision to Title 24. Title 24 is a 236 pages of state-mandated standards for building energy efficiency. Most of the time these standards and regulations are designed to help, unfortunately, this particular intrusion into the sanctity of our homes is not one of them. Energy Commission’s newly-proposed rules about your thermostat (PDF, see pages 63-64)
(c) Thermostats. All unitary heating and/or cooling systems including heat pumps that are not controlled by a central energy management control system (EMCS) shall have a Programmable Communicating Thermostat (PCT) that is certified by the manufacturer to the Energy Commission to meet the requirements of Subsections 112(c)(1) and 112(c)(2) below:
1. Setback Capabilities. All PCTs shall have a clock mechanism that allows the building occupant to program the temperature set points for at least four periods within 24 hours. Thermostats for heat pumps shall meet the requirements of Section 112(b).
2. Communicating Capabilities. All PCTs shall be distributed with a non-removable Radio Data System (RDS) communications device that is compatible with the default statewide DR communications system, which can be used by utilities to send price and emergency signals. PCTs shall be capable of receiving and responding to the signals indicating price and emergency events as follows.
A. Price Events. The PCT shall be shipped with default price-event offsets of +4°F for cooling and -4°F for heating enabled; however, customers shall be able to change the offsets and thermostat settings at any time during price events. Upon receiving a price-event signal, the PCT shall adjust the thermostat setpoint by the number of degrees indicated in the offset for the duration specified in the signal of the price event. The PCT shall also be equipped with the capability to allow customers to define setpoints for heating and cooling in response to price signals as an alternative to temperature-offsetting response, as described in Reference Joint Appendix JA5.
B. Emergency Events. Upon receiving an emergency signal, the PCT shall respond to commands contained in the emergency signal, including changing the setpoint by any number of degrees or to a specific temperature setpoint. The PCT shall not allow customer changes to thermostat settings during emergency events.
What exactly is a PCT:
California continues to push forward with revisions to its Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards that will mandate a programmable communicating thermostat (PCT) for all new residential buildings. PCT's are thermostats that receive price or electric system reliability signals, and can be programmed by the customer to automatically reduce energy consumption through thermostat set-point adjustments. This initiative will be effective beginning in 2009.
PCTs are part of California’s strategy to develop a statewide demand response system that can be used to encourage a more informed and empowered customer base. In time, such a system is expected to reduce system costs and prevent system disruptions. Other North American states and provinces are closely watching the California Title 24 initiative with interest in adopting similar programs.
This kind of big brother control over your home should frighten the bejesus out of you, I know it does me. If for any reason the state-regulated utilities deem that there is an “emergency”, they can do anything they want to your air conditioner or heater!
Exactly who or what entity gets to decide what an “emergency” is? With absolutely no override capability the home owner has zero control to change these settings. I guess that’s just too bad for the elderly sweltering in the summer heat?
This technology isn’t new, In fact, the utilities were offering discounts to those buyers who voluntarily installed these thermostats. So it begs the question, why is the state government here mandating these units?
Now, this is all an effort to mitigate the effects of high power draw in the hot summer months, when people are running their air conditioners. In the past, these situations have resulted in rolling blackouts and much political strife from the constituents. Those of us who have some economic sense and a history of California would point out that most of the woes this is intended to solve are the unintended consequences of California’s royally incompetent regulation and “de”regulation of their energy sector. Screwy regulatory hurdles, NIMBYism, and lobbying have resulted in a system which has completely destroyed any semblance of a market, and artificially limited increases in supply which might have kept electricity plentiful and prices low. Instead of fixing the problem, they’re simply adding another layer.
This idiocy needs to be stopped immediately so I urge any and all Californians to contact the “process administrator” of these proceedings, your local legislator. and demand they put a stop to this nonsense. Complaints need to be registered by January 30th!