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California Utilities to Control Thermostats?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the bet-those-will-never-get-tampered-with dept.

Power 503

TeraBill writes "It seems that the California Energy Commission is looking to give utilities in the state the power to control the thermostats in private homes via a radio signal. The idea is that during times of significant energy crunch, the utilities could force thermostats to higher temperatures rather than having to implement a rolling blackout. The thermostats have been around for a while and new ones were on display at the CES show in Vegas this week. While I can see the argument for it, we just had a kid take over a tram system with a remote control, so how long before our thermostat gets hacked by the neighbors. And I'd almost rather have the power drop than have someone significantly raise the temperature in my home if I had a computer running there. (UPS and a graceful shutdown versus cooking something.)"

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Great! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012724)

Keep them niggers from abusing the system during emergencies.

What California NEEDS to control (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012726)

niggers

Re:What California NEEDS to control (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012822)

I reckon if they kicked all the spics out they wouldn't have a power shortage.

Reasonable idea (1)

kinabrew (1053930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012736)

This seems like a reasonable idea if there's not enough power to go around.

If you want to make your computer shut down when the temperature gets too hot, you could probably rig something up.

Reasonable idea... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012774)

If you want to make your computer shut down when the temperature gets too hot, you could probably rig something up.

Or nig something up, as it were.

Re:Reasonable idea (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012788)

This is very old technology here in Canterbury New Zealand where the power companies have controlled water heating during the morning and evening peaks. It was done by injecting audio tones into the mains supply. The technology actually originated in WW2 in London to control the air-raid sirens.

Re:Reasonable idea (1)

risinganger (586395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012870)

At least that should be harder for an external person to tamper with than a wireless version. Seriously... they can't see the problems with doing this with a radio signal???

Re:Reasonable idea (4, Interesting)

caitriona81 (1032126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012872)

Here's an idea. Instead of the current typical 200amp service, everybody gets a 20amp service that is "always on", and a 200 amp service that's subject to rolling blackouts. That gives consumers the power to choose what loads will be shit down. It would be a little more complex for metering, but, much more effective, and easier to "convince" homeowners to retrofit. (Look... we can give you SOME power that doesn't go out...).

Re:Reasonable idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013342)

Well, if frame-relay works for comms, why not for power?

Re:Reasonable idea (4, Insightful)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013430)

Here's another idea: Create some competition to SDGE, and the first time they start turning off my A/C during the summer watch me switch to a new provider who builds an infrastructure that can keep up with demand and is willing to provide the energy I pay for.

Re:Reasonable idea (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013110)

No, this is a terrible idea.

If there's not enough power to go around, build up the infrastructure. I pay for a service. You provide it. How many decades do you have to suffer poor infrastructure problems before you finally start investing in it? How the hell do you run a business (and it is) by providing only what your current systems can handle and to hell with a growing demand for those services in the future? Imagine if the phone company had decided that, instead of requiring you to dial the area code every time you make a call, they had simply said "sorry, no more phone lines!" and decided not to invest in any sort of build-out whatsoever?

This whole "oh my god, not enough power" thing is fine for a year or two, when it catches you off guard. Its' quite another more than a decade later.

Re:Reasonable idea (5, Insightful)

knghtrider (685985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013406)

>If there's not enough power to go around, build up the infrastructure.

The power generation infrastructure suffers from too much 'NIMBY'. I lived in Indiana for years, and during the 90's; Duke power wanted to build several 'Peak Power' generation plants fired by Natural Gas. Every time they tried to get permits, the 'NIMBY' (Not In My Back Yard) crowd showed up and whined to the elected officials. Naturally, fearing a loss of votes elected officials caved.

California is in much the same state; They haven't been able to build a power plant (thanks to the NIMBY's) for at least 2 decades. Now, they are suffering for it. Back in 2001, the DOE estimated that the US would need around 1900 power plants built by the year 2021. Yes, they've built wind farms, but now they're finding that the Wind Farms are killing Raptors and causing infestations of rats. http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=18447 [heartland.org]

There is no easy answer--Conservation by us will help some, but ultimately we need clean, cheap power. On NUMB3RS last night, they were looking at putting up Solar Panels on Charlies house; which on a nice bright sunny day would generate more than what they used. IIRC, they were looking at some really cutting edge technology stuff. Currently, the break even point is about 12-18 years, but this company looks really promising. http://www.news.com/greentech/8301-11128_3-9835241-54.html?tag=nefd.top [news.com] At their cost of $1/watt it cuts the break even by as much as 66%.

Orwell had it right about one thing. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012738)

Big Brother, not to mention Big Nigger, is something to be despised and feared.

Power juggling (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012744)

Better than nigger banana juggling!

A better (fairer) idea: inequitable distribution (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012758)

Provide power according to one's usefulness in society, rank, political standing, and most importantly race. Keep the niggers in the dark the longest, until the situation can be resolved. After all, what do they really need power for? For ooking around like monkeys? For causing gang violence? Those activities can be put on hold, friends.

What's up with the retarded comment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012772)

cat /proc/acpi/thermal_zone/TZ00/temperature or some such to monitor the temperature, graceful shutdown if it's higher than you want.

Cooking Something? (1)

TheSimkin (639033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012778)

Seriously? We're talking about a couple of degrees here. Sounds like a good idea.

Re:Cooking Something? (1)

risinganger (586395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012830)

I'm with the parent poster on this one. Until I'd be willing to take complaints about hardware being cooked I would want to see some verifiable numbers being presented. What temperature you normally keep your house, how much higher the temperature can get in 2/4 hours if the aircon was turned off completely and what a change of a few degrees means. Even if they were to change it drastically by say 10 degrees centigrade - do you keep your machines that close to overheating that they couldn't cope with that?

Lets not even get started on how bad an idea having wireless control is for now

Re:Cooking Something? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013128)

I agree. I, as part of society, would also like to dictate how much gas you can buy, cable television you can watch, internet you can use, radio you can listen to, miles you can drive, children you can have, books you can read, light-bulbs you can buy, hours you can remain awake and food you can eat. After all, these are all resources and rather than cranking up supply to meet the demand, we'll just start forcing you to whatever limits we feel are best.

Re:Cooking Something? (2, Insightful)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013396)

Yeah, if there's 1000 people and 1000 fillups of gas available, I'd say it's fair to dictate 1 per person as a general rule.

Most of your other examples don't deal with scarcity. If you change the facts to 500 cable subscribers on a line that can only support 480, then yes, there is going to be some bandwidth throttling or random dropouts. That's basically what you've got here.

If there are six light bulbs and seven people needing one, someone's not getting a lightbulb, but it's probably not fair to let one person take all six. If food supply is down, rationing will hit sooner or later. Placing limits on usage where multiple people have a need for an essential service is a basic part of living in a community.

"Cranking up supply" isn't that simple. That's obviously the long-term solution, but it does absolutely nothing in the present to address the problems of the present for the customers of the present. Your choices are (a) no power or (b) a system which overrides your preference to force greedy and ignorant bastards to conserve. The amount of power available to you is going to work out the same. Instead of black hours and all-or-nothing, there's a possibility of some slightly grey time which keeps your appliances on.

It's not big brother, it's not an arbitrary intrusion. It's a solution to a problem that doesn't require much new infrastructure. It's got quite a bit of potential for abuse, but that's a separate issue.

No one wants blowhards saying some people should sit in the dark so that they can run their A/C at 65 if they want...because those same asses are the ones that bitch loudest when their blackout block comes up. That is, unless you can wave your magic wand and increase capacity and grid management in the blink of an eye.

Re:Cooking Something? (-1, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013418)

Let's not get stupid here. Before you get your conservative, no-government, Daddy-State panties in a twist, let's remember that this control thing is just for emergency situations to avoid the rolling blackouts.

Nobody's talking about controlling how many children you can have, although it might not be such a bad idea in some cases.

Re:Cooking Something? (2, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013198)

Sounds like a good idea.

How is avoiding the real problem a "good idea"?

For those of us in cold climates... (4, Informative)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012790)

..remember that California is HOT. The thermostats referred to are connected to air conditioning, not, as I first thought, heating systems!

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (3, Insightful)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012842)

The thermostats referred to are connected to air conditioning
Thanks for the info, now it actually makes sense to me. Here I was, wondering how exactly turning the heating up would help with reducing electricity...

So I guess that does make the idea a lot more reasonable, although I would still rather feel that if your power grid can't always deal with the electricity demand, then it's the power grid that needs updating - on the other hand, this probably both cheaper and more enviromentally friendly.

That leaves the one concern then: hacking of the system, especially since this is wireless. If the idea is to turn air conditioning down to reduce the strain on the power grid, then bad guys can use the same system and turn the air conditioning up to crash the grid. And what does TFA say about the possibility of hacking?

That is not possible, said Nicole Tam, a spokeswoman for P.G.& E. who works with the pilot program in Stockton. Radio pages "are encrypted and encoded," Ms. Tam said
Yeah right, like that's ever stopped anyone. Also, what is the difference between encrypted and encoded?

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (1)

risinganger (586395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012942)

what is the difference between encrypted and encoded?
You mean you don't know? By encrypting and encoding you make it impossible to break into. It's the same reason why the biometric ID's they want to introduce in the UK are impossible to break (according to the politicians). The information community has been sitting on this for decades now as they'd rather see what you're up to.

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013188)

I would seriously like to see them prove it is cheaper in hardware and labor to provide and install these units in some ten million households, not to mention malls, offices, restaurants and other businesses.

Not to mention, the whole intrusive government aspect of it, which is no small thing for people to rightfully take issue with.

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (4, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013348)

not to mention malls, offices, restaurants and other businesses.

Oh, no, they won't install them in any commercial location, only private homes. Making people uncomfortable in their own homes, no problem; Interfering with Holy Commerce, now, they just don't play games there. Won't happen.

Remember, this involves a state that has to pump in water from two states away because of regular yearly droughts that make the US SouthEast this year look like a bunch of crybabies, yet when they implement watering bans, they exempt businesses; And even on mornings when they do actually get a bit of rain, those businesses will still leave the sprinklers on, because it costs less than having Jose drop by and manually interrupt the cycle.


In any other state, I'd consider this proposal offensive enough to incite riots. But California? Heh. Relax and just watch the show.

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (2, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013436)

It's a bizarre system that charges an uneconomic price for energy and then wants to compensate for that by controlling the thermostat in your home. When there is a shortage of power the wholesale price of energy rises. Charge households the true cost of the electricity they use (which will sometimes be more than the current rate, sometimes less) and if you want to install a thermostat that automatically reduces its power consumption when power is expensive, that's up to you. It would depend on your own individual preferences - perhaps most of the time you're not prepared to spend more than $0.20 per hour to keep your room cool, but if you feel unwell or you have guests staying (or you are making pastry) you could program your thermostat to spend more money. Then the scare electricity is allocated to those who are most prepared to pay for it.

I don't mean that power companies should be able to gouge consumers for whatever they can get. Obviously the retail price should be regulated to not exceed the wholesale price by more than a small fixed amount.

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (1)

ParaShoot (992496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013354)

what is the difference between encrypted and encoded?
Given an arbitrary message: Encoding is just a matter of the way you write it. ASCII, UTF-8, braille, semaphore, morse code - different ways of writing (encoding) the same message. Encryption is doing something specifically to make it harder to read, e.g. the Enigma cipher. There can be some crossover - the Caesar cipher (replace each letter of the alphabet with a symbol) is both an encoding and a (rubbish) form of encryption.

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (1)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013170)

"Cryostats"?

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (2, Interesting)

Rick17JJ (744063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013334)

That reminds me of something that happened at a college back in the 1970s during the energy crisis, when everyone was asked to save energy by lowering their thermostats to 68 degrees. I was taking some classes at a Junior College in Arizona at the time. They lowered the thermostats to 68 degrees during the winter to save energy, as requested, and then several weeks later they discovered that the air conditioning system had come on automatically to get the building down to 68 degrees.

Will these proposed new radio-controlled thermostats be designed well enough to avoid those kinds of mistakes? I still remember riding in a few cars from the 1970s which had government required seat-belt warning devices reminding people to buckle-up. It was annoying when the device could sense the weight of groceries on the passenger seat and repeatedly complain about that person not being buckled up. I suspect these new thermostats will end up annoying some home owners by making similar unfair stupid errors.

Personally, I think that well insulated energy efficient homes with a smaller capacity air-conditioner should be exempt from needing a radio-controlled thermostat for their air-conditioner. Suppose someone has a home with something like R-28 walls, extra insulation in the ceiling, extra insulation on the ducts and double-pane low-e glass in the windows. They are saving plenty of energy already. On the other had there are many homes out there with R-11 walls and single-pane windows. Since they are the ones that are using most of the energy, they should be the only ones to get the big-brother controlled thermostat.

Evaporative coolers should also be exempt from needing these special thermostats, since they use less energy anyway. Furthermore, if someone has a solar powered evaporative cooler, it should definitely be exempt. I don't know much about solar evaporative coolers, but apparently they use a photovotaic solar panel to generate the power to run the pump and fans and whatever is required to make an evaporative cooler work. By the way, from what I recall, evaporative coolers don't always cool as well, especially when the humidity rises.

Someone who built his own solar powered evaporative cooler [voltscommissar.net]

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013446)

That was back during the Carter administration. They weren't going to use radio signals back then. The technology didn't exist.

Jimmah proposed sending Boy Scouts around to check thermostats.

Re:For those of us in cold climates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013360)

There's a much simpler way to lower cooling costs in the summer. Mylar emergency blankets in your windows and good insulation does a hell of a job. I first started using them to cover the outside of my tent when I was camping the desert, and even in unbearably hot weather it was comfortable sitting in the tent. Putting them in the windows here, I now run the A/C maybe one third as much as I had before during the summer months, and it cost me 99 cents per window.

It's not the most attractive thing from outside of the house, and I know someone who had cops come knocking thinking they were sealing in the light from a grow room, but it's damn effective.

4chan nubbery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012828)

How did 4chan leave such... typical 4 chan comments on this story so fast?
It boggles the mind.

Re:4chan nubbery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013310)

4chan doesn't troll Slashdot anymore.

Texas too... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012838)

In Texas the cities offer free "high tech" thermostats... provided you let them be able to keep your A/C powered off for 15-20 minutes per hour on peak times.

I'll pass. If the temperature is cracking 100, there is a reason I bought my HVAC system, and that is to keep my place at a bearable temperature, not allow someone else to set it the way they want.

Re:Texas too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013380)

If your hose was properly insulated, you probably wouldn't notice the increase in temperature during such a short period. Insulation would also significantly reduce your usage of electricity for cooling (and heating, in case that ever is a problem in texas).

Horrible... (4, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012844)

By the time they've got this in everyone's home, intruding in their lives like some third world dictatorship rationing bread, they could have built a new nuclear power plant or two.

Re:Horrible... (2, Funny)

Malevolent Tester (1201209) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012900)

But nuclear power plants use science. Science is bad. Everything would be alright if we'd just live in caves and hunt our own food, because the pre technological past was idyllic and peaceful.

Re:Horrible... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013096)

Don't tase my thermostat, bro!

ban home A/C then (0, Troll)

Blaskowicz (634489) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012846)

yeah, ban home A/C except cooling for one room if there's an elderly people or someone with a similar vulenarbility living in the house.

Re:ban home A/C then (2, Funny)

Bailsoft (752566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012904)

All air conditioning should be set to maximum for all rooms. Plus all car engines should be radio linked so the authorities can start them at will and rev them up to increase global warming. Plus cars should be fitted with gas guzzlers like in Futurama; I want the ice caps to melt in my life time!

Re:ban home A/C then (1)

Ross D Anderson (1020653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013206)

Mod +1 Dick

Re:ban home A/C then (1)

ardyng (973980) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013202)

Yes, and elderly and infirm people should be restricted to one room of their own houses. ;)

Re:ban home A/C then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013224)

Nah, during hot days just make some room for pappy in the fridge.

Some places already do this. It's a good idea. (3, Informative)

Kludge (13653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012884)

http://www.cityofames.org/ElectricWeb/PrimeTimePower/Default.htm [cityofames.org]

Having everyone pulling power willy-nilly from a facility with limited output is a dumb idea. Regulating a more even amount of power to everyone is smarter.

Re:Some places already do this. It's a good idea. (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013154)

There is a big difference between what you link to, and what California proposes. California proposes that every new home built, and every home with major modifications be forced to include one of these thermostats. City of Ames electric department offers a $5 discount to everyone who allows them to install a remote-control thermostat.

Re:Some places already do this. It's a good idea. (1)

Richard Dansereau (19013) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013214)

In Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, they have implemented Peaksaver [hydroottawa.com] which is a similar thermostat control program during the summer. A great feature is that it also allows the home owner to control their thermostat over the Internet.

Re:Some places already do this. It's a good idea. (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013216)

Both are stupid ideas.

Having everyone pulling power from a properly built infrastructure so that it can handle said demand is ideal. I don't know how long California has been having this problem, but it has been at least ten years and if you can't at least begin to increase your services in a decade, then you don't deserve to be in business.

It's not like the energy isn't available. They just don't have the power grid to handle it. Rather than Orwell-ing me, how about improving your damn services?

Some places already do this. It's a good idea-Tax. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013282)

"It's not like the energy isn't available. They just don't have the power grid to handle it. Rather than Orwell-ing me, how about improving your damn services?"

Right. How about they raise your taxes? Oh right that would be the "scariest agency" poll.

Load management terminals (5, Informative)

ScottBob (244972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012892)

They already have a system like this in place in south Louisiana, some electricity co-ops use load management terminals, which look like a separate electric meter connected to the air conditioner. On hot summer days, they'll shut off the A/C for up to half an hour, to prevent overload to the grid and save money. They don't shut everybody's A/C off at once, they "roll" the shutoffs through the neighborhoods. It can be a bit of an inconvenience because of the temperature rise in your house, but if your house is well insulated, you won't notice it that much. The system is totally voluntary, and you even get a minor rebate on your electric bill.

Communism (0)

lordmetroid (708723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012916)

In communist russia thermostates regulate you... Wait something is wrong in this picture, ohh nooo. It is not communist russia it is the land of the free america where thermostates now regulates you.

If government would be staying out of energy provision. This would have been a market that would cater to their customers needs and higher demands means opportunity for profits. But as it is a state operation now higher demand doesn't mean profit opportunity but higher expenses. It is totally anti-efective and contradictory of what reality.

I for one do not welcome our new communist overlords, they may say it will be nothing big. But when did the state not abuse a power they have had?

Re:Communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22012972)

(Some) Americans are funny :-) Whenever the government regulates anything, it's "OMG888 COMMIES888"

Re:Communism (1)

lordmetroid (708723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013016)

I am not Amercan, I am socialist-Swede!

Re:Communism (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012986)

As U.S. continues it's slow downfall into becoming a third world nation, the really shocking thing is how wonderful everybody seems to think this is.

Wait... did I just say that? I guess it's not really that shocking.

Yes, it does get cold here (1)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012918)

State control of my thermostat does not sound at all like a good idea to me. Granted, FTFA it's only a four degree swing, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to give up that sort of control. Who sets how low to go? Would I have to or be able to compensate by setting my thermostat higher? Seems that if I'm cold, I'm going to set the temp to where I like it, "the state" be damned. I'll determine what my threshold is concerning how much I want to pay verses how much comfort I want to have, thankyouverymuch.

OTOH I'm all for using less resources and the whole green thing, but I don't think a 1984 approach is what's warranted here. How about giving me more incentives to lower my home heating bill instead?

What I can tell you is that the day that CA is able to set how warm my home is will be the day I figure out how to bypass it.

Re:Yes, it does get cold here (1)

HappyEngineer (888000) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012984)

I agree. If there isn't enough power to go around then it's a limited resource and they should be charging more. Actually, they are charging more. A few years ago I was able to reduce my power bill by $100 a month (from $200 down to $100) just by turning off my computer at night. But, if they are still running out of power then they should either build another plant or charge even more for energy.

Re:Yes, it does get cold here (1)

tubs (143128) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013120)

They should be building more power stations.

Except shareholders are unlikely to accept a 30 year return of investment.

Re:Yes, it does get cold here (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013242)

They should be building more power stations.

Why would that be a good solution? Putting more carbon into the air isn't going to make the temperature any cooler!

I think they'd be better off just charging more for electricity (with concessions for those who really need it but can't afford it). If you want AC then you'd better be prepared to pay for it. People lived without it in the past. At the moment, taking steps to save electricity doesn't really save you a noticeable amount of $$$. If the price went up a heap, then people would be more likely to take a look around at what they could turn off. If you could save $50/month just by turning off a few lights, bumping up (or down, as appropriate for your climate and time of year) the thermostat, or paying a bit extra for more efficient appliances then you'd be more likely to do it.

Re:Yes, it does get cold here (1)

hankwang (413283) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013270)

A few years ago I was able to reduce my power bill by $100 a month (from $200 down to $100) just by turning off my computer at night.

Was that computer a Beowulf cluster or something? Over here, electricity is about EUR 0.22/kWh. EUR 70 per month for 12 hours per day would mean you have a 900 W computer, or maybe 600 W plus 300 W for the airconditioning.

KDE 4.0 (0, Offtopic)

Poorcku (831174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012926)

not wanting to be rude, but slashdot is posting some story about thermostats and meanwhile KDE 4.0 is out, but there is no story about it. or did i miss it?

Re:KDE 4.0 (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012996)

Yesterday... and I didn't even see a summary, but that just might be my preferences.

Re:KDE 4.0 (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013008)

not wanting to be rude, but slashdot is posting some story about thermostats and meanwhile KDE 4.0 is out, but there is no story about it. or did i miss it?

Yup. You missed 'em. Here [slashdot.org] and here, [slashdot.org] for starters.

Personally, I can't believe that people are buying into this. I'm paying the utility companies for service. Failure to plan/build the appropriate infrastructure is no excuse. In short:

Failure to plan upon their part should in no way necessitate a remedy on our part.

Re:KDE 4.0 (1)

Poorcku (831174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013060)

the 2 stories date: dec 14 and dec 29. As of friday (january 11, 2008) it is officially out. so no, there is no story about it :)

Re:KDE 4.0 (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013422)

No, like I say, it was a one liner (no summary, but that just might be my settings), it was certainly posted on slashdot:

KDE 4.0 Is Out [slashdot.org]

Re:KDE 4.0 (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013414)

Failure to plan upon their part should in no way necessitate a remedy on our part.
Well, sunshine, that's how the world works, though here and in most other examples, the remedy is coming from them, not you.

Regardless of whether it is poor planning, poor policy, poor enforcement, or some uncontrollable outside force (greedy people chilling McMansions while they're at work, for example), power is a finite resource. It runs out when it runs out. This is an unavoidable fact. If there is no power to give, your philosophical argument is meaningless. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Did you support proper planning and capacity by encouraging best performance practices on the utility company? Or did you just ask for the lowest possible bill? Exactly. You're paying for service; we're all paying for service. It's not like you get billed for power during your blackout block time, so your payment is irrelevant.

How would you rather manage it? Either way we're talking about forcibly reducing demand to keep the grid online. That can either mean a few tens of thousands of customers get their power cut for a while, or 38 million people have their thermostat reset five degrees up (with obvious concessions where applicable) for a few hours?

I choose the latter, if for no other reason than that I hate resetting clocks and get annoyed when the DVR or Internet cut out while recording/downloading. Most sensible people would, too.

Re:KDE 4.0 (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013068)

you know mentioning kde in the California thermostat control dept. is off topic, but i will bite anyway, i been a kde fan for years, since Slackware8 with kde-2.1.1, currently running Crux with a hand rolled qt & kde-3.5.8, from what i seen when i took a rc of kde-4 for a test drive i don't think it will be all that usable until 4.2.1 (somewhere in there) personally i think the kde team pushed it out the door way too soon, i hate the new menu scheme/style, and that huge panel needs an autohide & resize feature (i like a small or tiny kicker/panel with autohide turned on) since i like my apps to take up 100% of the screen...

HappyTrails :)

What gear you got at home ? (2, Informative)

butlerdi (705651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012936)

And I'd almost rather have the power drop than have someone significantly raise the temperature in my home if I had a computer running there

What the hell you running in there ? California, with the exception of the Central Valley and a few deserts (not all that populated) is not all that hot. I have run almost all forms of workstations sans AC in 40C + weather with no adverse effects.

Re:What gear you got at home ? (1)

iwein (561027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013286)

And added to that, if you're running systems at home that are that critical you should really check out some of the new services of this millennium, like ec2/s3 for example... UPS at home is soooo ninetees.

hands of my thermostat (2, Insightful)

Erpo (237853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012938)

This is a fundamentally broken system, like the cable companies relying on cable modems (in the customers' houses) to limit the amount of data customers can upload into the network per second. Uncapping, anyone? Unless the meters get smarter, "uncapping" a thermostat would be easy and very hard to detect.

Instead, why not plan properly so that electricity shortages don't happen?

As an aside, I don't think many people will take kindly to having their thermostats adjusted by an outside force. Being told "no" by technology tends to make people angry, even if it's for the greater social good. Ever seen a person get mad at a red traffic light? They don't realize that a red traffic light is not "the man" telling them no. It's a helpful, sensible warning that the cross traffic has a green light.

Re:hands of my thermostat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013104)

Instead, why not plan properly so that electricity shortages don't happen?

Basic economic lesson: "everything is scares". Until of course scares means nothing more available.

With the current dependency on fossil fuels this moment will arrive. When just continue to extend power grids and allowing any amount of energy consumption, the point of no fossil fuels available will be reached sooner than later. This has nothing to do with green or progressive, this is plain old economics! Therefore it makes sense not to extend the power grid until some fundamental things have changed in energy generation and use.

Can you imagine what would happen, either locally or world wide, if there is a real shortage of fuel? And prices go up to $30 per gallon or worse? Electricity would costs $2.50 per kwh? OK, this will not happen not today, but it could be the case in 40 years. Than you would think more than twice to even switch on your AC... Some poorer people would not even be able to pay for warming up a meal. Do you know what these people are going to do? I do not want to find out...

This is a joke, right? (0)

paxgaea (219419) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012950)

Right? Really, I mean c'mon...

And yet I see some already posting that they would be ok with it. Perplexing.

If we sit down and think for 10 minutes we can probably come up with a million reasons why this is a BAD idea. I'll help start the list, and maybe others can add to it:

1. If the utility (which charges you for their services) can raise your air conditioning temp by a couple of degrees to ease the load, what prevents them from lowering the thermostat by a degree or two (or, depending on the technology, .45 degrees in order to keep the display showing the same degree you set it at, but increasing usage ever so slightly multiplied by millions of households) to increase their profit at your expense?

2. The first time someone dies from heat overexposure, the taxpayer and utility customer will end up footing the bill to cover the liability payout.

3. It is a slippery slope. What form of control of our daily life will be recommended next {for our own good, of course}? I would prefer to see some rationing from the other direction, which would likely encourage a more environmentallly friendly outcome of less energy usage. If the utility company says you have X amount of kilowatt hours for the {week | month | year} then you could ration as you saw fit, rather than having an intrusive system rationing for you. The environmental benefit is that when there is scarcity, people tend to do a better job of using less, and you would likely come in well below your ration mark.

Re:This is a joke, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013070)

You missed the obvious: this applies to every california home, irrespective of if you've set up solar panels on your roof, batteries in your basement, and lived happily off-the-grid for years.

Re:This is a joke, right? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013212)

1. If the utility (which charges you for their services) can raise your air conditioning temp by a couple of degrees to ease the load, what prevents them from lowering the thermostat by a degree or two (or, depending on the technology, .45 degrees in order to keep the display showing the same degree you set it at, but increasing usage ever so slightly multiplied by millions of households) to increase their profit at your expense?
They might try this, but they'd get caught (they always do), and there would be a huge class action and they'd never do it again. I don't see a problem.

2. The first time someone dies from heat overexposure, the taxpayer and utility customer will end up footing the bill to cover the liability payout.
How much exactly are they raising the temperature here???

3. It is a slippery slope. What form of control of our daily life will be recommended next {for our own good, of course}?
Oh not the slipperly slope again. Now all we need is someone making a frog in boiling water comparison and the commentry will be complete.

faraday? (4, Funny)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012964)

Looks like the prefect use for a faraday cage.

They want sockets to have Internet addresses too (4, Informative)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012988)

Quite a while back, maybe ten years ago or so, I read that the Electric Power Research Institute was proposing that each power and light socket have a unique IP address so that they could be remotely controlled by the power company, for the same reason as given here - to reduce consumption at peak times, and to prevent rolling blackouts.

That wasn't feasible at the time, as they would have quickly run out of available addresses, but now with IPv6 that's not such a problem anymore. I expect that the proposal will resurface again soon.

Why not just watch the frequency. (4, Interesting)

gerardlt (529702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012992)

There already exists devices for dropping loads when the supply frequency droops - a sign that the generation is not meeting the load. These are designed specifically for areas where generation will occasionally be insufficient, like developing countries. Now that North America is in the same boat (and the rest of the 'western' world is probably going to follow the same course), why not start using these things.

It wouldn't be hard to develop a small micro-controller driven box that would watch the mains supply frequency and apply small adjustments to a thermostat setting as required.

No. (1)

entrigant (233266) | more than 6 years ago | (#22012998)

I'll give up my life before i give up my A/C. Piss off.

Re:No. (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013238)

So, will you commit suicide during blackout?

Why not build more capacity? (4, Insightful)

Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013026)

You know the one thing that I really don't understand is saving energy via force, and not via using technology. Actually I really don't understand the whole drive to just save energy as saving energy doesn't necessarily even mean saving environment. We have the technology, we have had for long, to solve all our energy problems without sacrificing environment or economy. So why not build more nuclear power? It's environmentally friendly and economic. From western countries, France and Finland are both building new next generation plants, British government is leaning on building more and even in Sweden, who after the Chernobyl, made an alarmist decision to give up nuclear power, is starting to discuss on reverting that decision.

So why not? Why not build more capacity to California and other parts of US? That way you could have your all the energy you need in low price and in time you could shut down your coal and oil power generation plants and take part in struggle against global warming. That would be a real solution to a problem, not a act to play more time, as is this proposition to take over the thermostats.

Re:Why not build more capacity? (2, Informative)

Mike89 (1006497) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013344)

So why not? Why not build more capacity to California and other parts of US?
It's not cost effective. I'm from Australia, but I feel I can still answer your question because my father has worked in the electricity industry and explained it all to me as a kid. Here in Melbourne, we have a few days a year of blackouts, typically. This is because in the peak of summer, the grid gets overloaded and rolling blackouts are implemented. Now, for the rest of the year, capacity is plentiful - the few days of overload doesn't provide enough incentive to upgrade, because for the rest of the year the network is overcompensating.

Sorry if I didn't explain it very well, it's been a long day ;)

What nonsense (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013072)

Just charge people a buttload more when the system is overloaded.  Only that will motivate people to conserve.

Or, regulate the industry.  Power privatization has been a perfect example of the failure of the free market.  All it's been is a money grab.  Bastards.

Re:What nonsense (1)

lordmetroid (708723) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013122)

How Orweillian, you blame people doing transaction on a concentual basis with each other. How about blaming the real problem? Government idiotic regulation such as licensing to prevent new people to enter the market. Outlawing of building new nuclear plants and so on and on and on and on and on... ... ...?

Missing Tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013080)

boilingfrogsyndrome

In South Africa (2, Insightful)

hedleyroos (817147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013082)

We don't call it "rolling blackouts" - we call it "load shedding".

Actually we (the public) don't call it that. Eskom, the only electricity supplier (who just managed to hike rates by 14%) call it that. And the blackouts, sorry, load shedding, take place at random times. This results in businesses like small theatres without the means to buy generators sometimes losing lots of money, and Eskom can't be sued.

This post is sounding like a parody of "in Soviet Russia", but the sad thing is it is not.

It will take more than a special thermostat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013132)

They would need special controls put on the furnaces (blowers), condensing units and cooling towers, perhaps the coils, etc. if they intend to keep people under control.

Otherwise, folks like me might be tempted to leave Big Bro's thermostat in place, just making sure all the important wires feed from my HVAC equipment to my $25 Home Depot thermostat.

How long before... (3, Insightful)

sd1248 (671744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013142)

How long people start pointing hair dryers at or placing heat packs over their thermostats?

Anytime time some one further regulates our lives someone will find a way around it. The best way to control demand for a limited resource is to increase the price during peak periods. Once the price gets high enough people will actually start to see the cost savings in turning down the air conditioning or better insulating their houses.

I prefer a cooler temperature however I have spent a lot of money insulating my house and only run the air conditioning in the one room I am using. I use less power than people with uninsulated houses that air condition every room even when their thermostat is set a few degrees higher.

Re:How long before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013250)

Well, I don't have a clue how to make air conditioning only happen in "one room" of my 1100sqft apartment, so I just keep the AC set to 65 degrees and leave it there all year. I'm willing to pay the electricity, so I pay fuck all attention to the stupid energy initiatives. When someone else starts PAYING my bills they can start dictating my use of those services.

Rolling Blackouts Turn Off Thermostats Too (1)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013144)

One way or another, the electric company is going to reduce your power usage in a power emergency, either by raising thermostats or shutting off your power. The former is certainly a preferable alternative to the latter.

deadly to humans (2, Interesting)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013180)

My wife takes medication that makes her very sensitive to heat. In her state of health, raising the temperature could kill her.

No way they'll put that in without me having a backup (as we do now).

Re:deadly to humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013440)

If heat is that big of an issue, move to a cooler climate!

corepirate nazis to control everything (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013190)

fuel, water, weather, yOUR minds, money, children, future, etc.... what a scam. arnold's conservation plan has nothing to do with it. that can be noted by the georgewellian regime's opposition to his efforts. let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices (including using less of almost everything). if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking fairytail propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Grow Houses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22013192)

I bet finding a better way to detect when growhouses for dope are stealing power would have a bigger effect.
Growhouses use ALOT of power, & growers go to great lengths to evade detection. I've heard of people closing down entire places of business in a split second because they get a call about a power company truck being seen anywhere near the growhouse.

I know here in Florida there's alot of houses in upscale neighborhoods that nobody suspects for growing dope. There was also just a bit about this in the news around here.

Growhouses are already going to have the air conditioner(s) cranked way down to keep the heat generated from the lights down. Various things like fans & water pumps take the place of a normal homes' power usage. When you consider that in these upscale houses there's going to be anywhere from 10-50 thousand watts of lights going between 18 and 24 hours a day, the problem becomes very obvious.

Finding one growhouse stealing power would save dozens of people from sweating their ass off.

This is also California we're talking about, if you don't think there's alot of hydroponic grow houses tucked away in theese million dollar houses, you're a fool.

I'm not a pro-dope advocate, I don't even smoke, but legalizing it would devalue it & make problems like this less common.

You'd want to think twice (2, Insightful)

Melbourne Pete (1204418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013240)

I'm not sure I'd want to be making too many complaints to the electricity company about my power bill. They could make things pretty uncomfortable for you if they took a disliking to you!

Why a stick when a carrot would do? (1)

ardyng (973980) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013268)

Seriously, I don't like the idea of this being legislated in this way.

I think that a voluntary system could be devised that would get consumers to want this and participate voluntarily. (And I'm sure it has, though I'm too fuddled to try and find a link at this hour of the morning.)

The program I recall was that the energy company would either provide the thermostat free of charge or at a heavily rebated price, and that every time there was a need, they could send a code to your thermostat to raise the temperature by a few degrees to get your system to cycle down for an hour or two. In return for allowing them to do this, the customer who had their system sent such a code would receive compensation in the form of a five dollar (or some other small) credit on their bills.

Also, if you're not home and your thermostat is off, or you're off on vacation, the system records the number of signals sent, not how many times the thermostat was actually raised, so you'd get rewarded even if you weren't inconvenienced.

I'd go for that in a heartbeat, and I think a lot of other people would too, if it were explained to them in this way. Even though I'm living in a household with three other people who all NEED the AC, I don't think having it bumped up by a few degrees would adversely affect us very much at all.

I don't think we need legislation when a voluntary program could do the trick just fine.

As long as there is an override... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013288)

Let those who want to participate do so, those that don't want to to also do so and for those who find at times exception to participation, but otherwise would participate, the ultimate control.

Everyone pays for what they use, here in atlanta with teh water issues, more and more are turning to rain collection systems and the same do it yourself attitude can be applied regarding power.

Economics? (5, Insightful)

OgreChow (206018) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013352)

Simple way to accomplish the same means: raise the price during peak hours. Works for cell phones, right?

Scotland... (1)

markowen58 (917436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013384)

In Scotland they already have a system that the local meter operator decides when you heating comes on called WeatherCall. You essentially leave your heating on all the time and a two rate radio teleswitched controled meter switches the heating circuit on based on the weather. Granted i don't live that far north so i don't know how people like it or not or feel their liberty is in some way restricted. All i think they care about is being warm when it's cold, which basically they are.

may not be relevant due to the fact it's based around the weather, but equally the meter operator knows what kind of load it will need and when it will need it as it decides.

That said though, a well insulated house will reduce the need for either AC or Heating... build better...

Anything to aviod solar electricity I guess. (2, Insightful)

micheas (231635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22013452)

In California If you produce more electricity than your use from the solar panels on your house you not only don't get to sell your excess electricity at wholesale rates you just get credits that expire on your anniversary of having net metering. This is unlike Germany where you get to sell your excess solar generated electricity at retail prices.

Basically PG&E is going to make about $2,000 dollars off of me because I don't use enough electricity. (maybe I need to move some pizza boxes from the office to home, no I can hear the fans in the other room at work even with the door closed)

The only debate we are having is to replace the hot water heaters or the stove with electric instead of gas so that we can increase our electric usage.

California has an electricity shortage and many of their residents are scaling back solar installations and or scheming to use more electricity and they are going to install stupid devices that can be defeated by walking down to the drugstore and getting an instant heat pad to put on the thermostat. (Of course the real nerds will put a second thermostat on the hair dryer that is pointed at the radio controlled thermostat and have it blow hot air at the thing to get the house cool. I guess I need to go patent a really obvious design and get manufacturing lined up if this stupid nanny state regulation gets passed.

Gee this a bad idea that has an obvious workaround by the dishonest and has lots of room for kickbacks and ignores the cause of the problem, I give it about an 80% chance of passing if the elected officials in Sacramento get paid their bribes^w campaign contributions.
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