California to snatch control of citizens' air-con
Cooking the public for the public good
Californians will be forced to break out in a sweat whether they like it or not as part of an energy efficiency plan being considered by the state government.
The plan, which would mandate “smart thermostats” in new and substantially rebuilt buildings, as well as overhauled heating and cooling systems, is included in a revised building code being considered by the California Energy Commission this month.
Utilities, faced with energy shortages, would be able to remotely adjust the thermostats in consumers’ homes, effectively cooling down heating systems and dialling back air-conditioning systems, to reduce power draw.
Of the two, air-conditioning is arguably the bigger problem. California’s energy crisis back in 2000/2001 was largely caused by a combination of spiralling demand from air-conditioning units after a population boom in the state’s central valley and other arid areas, coupled with a bodged utilities privatisation programme and a creaking power infrastructure. The result was brownouts and rolling power cuts through a torrid summer.
But Californians jealously guard their freedom to watch TV wearing a bikini in winter or a all-in-one rubber body suit in summer without breaking a sweat or feeling a chill. An outcry over the plans has forced regulators to allow consumers to over-ride the central set temperature though, apparently, the utilities will be able to over-ride that over-ride in extremis.
Whether the plan will be adopted is anyone’s guess. Back in 2004 a San Francisco-based state legislator tried to get the principles of Feng Shui enshrined in the state building code – shockingly, he failed. At around the same time, though, the state swore in an Austrian-born half-man, half-robot as their duly elected supreme leader. ®
there's always an override - it's just a matter of figuring it out
The apartment complex I once lived in forced these things on their tenants as part of a deal to save them some money with the electricity supplier.
They claimed it "wouldn't make any effect the temperature" if they cut off the A/C power for 20min/hour at peak time "because A/C units cycle anyway"
... Fortunately a least a few tenants had grasped enough basic high school physics point out in no uncertain term they were talking rubbish.
By the way - service techs also need to be able to get the A/C running during repairs so there's always an override - it's just a matter of figuring it out.
Feelin' HOT HOT HOT
The problem is that the thermostat control scheme works as such:
When peak demand is high, your AC temperature will be raised, in result making it hotter.
So, during a heatwave, you can depend on not having any AC running at all. This would be a definite crunch for those of us who choose to live on a top floor (devoid of stomping).
So what does that mean for your average Joe? HOT HOT HOT.
To anticipate this:
- <b>Store any chocolate or soft, low melting point products</b> (such as some cookies, biscuits, anything containing caramel or any candies) <b>in the fridge, as they cannot regulate your fridge power consumption.</b>
- <b>Leave windows open, or fans on for your pets, make sure they have plenty of water.</b> During the day they will be turning off your AC altogether, and turning it on just before you arrive home, if not after.
- <b>No on-demand cooling if you have more guests in your home.</b> Too bad if body heat destroys your summer gathering.
- <b>Turn off PCs when not in use.</b> Too bad if you want to download that huge file, you'll need to turn off your machine during the day or risk over heating, or coming home to a hot hot hot machine in this sometimes 90+F world.
- <b>Take showers to lower your body temp.</b> Cold water does wonders, wetting your hair as well.
- <b>Drink lots of water.</b> Iced water. Keep a pitcher in the fridge for a quick cooldown option, or an icepack placed neatly between your shoulder blades will make you cool.
It's disaster planning for utility company-owned management. Yay for having no control!
Well here where I live where we have some of the most seasonal variations in temperature we just INSULATE our homes.
I can walk around in the winter in bare feet while it is -45 outside and I can wear jeans and a sweater in the summer when it is +45 outside (well my AC would run all day but that is OK as we have the cheapest electricity in North America), I don't but I could.
And yes we do need a Chicken Little icon