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November 30th, 2006:

Programmable thermostats and Big Brother

A colleague told me a story today that kind of freaked me out.
As part of the Ontario smart meter program, he had one of these devices installed in his home. You know – the smart meters are the ones that monitor your electricity usage through the day and will serve as a householder,s guide when we Ontarians begin to be charged for our consumption on a scale based on the time of the day.
Well, the folks at Ottawa Hydro or Ontario Power Generation or whomever is responsible for this program had another “gift” for my colleague. They would receive a brand new programmable thermostat free of charge and accessible over the web by you off PC so you can adjust the programming remotely,
But there is a catch.
You are not the only one who can access the controls to the thermostat. To receive the free gift, you must sign a waiver agreeing that the power authority can access your household’s thermostat from THEIR computers and adjust YOUR household’s temperature. So, on a scalding hot day, they can reach into your system and lower your consumption to reduce the loads on the grid.
Is this for real?
Of course, my colleague declined the offer but who in their right mind would consent to it?
What a Big Brother move.
Here’s the link to the program: