[SATLUG] Re: Any Technical/Automation-Hacking/Override info on the CPS Energy Saver Thermostat?

Henry Pugsley henry.pugsley at gmail.com
Sun May 16 15:09:54 CDT 2010

I think you're missing the point .. it's not about who is deciding how
hot or cold your house is.  From what I've read about this, CPS will
cycle your A/C during peak load times to smooth the load cycles.  I've
seen this happen both in Florida and Texas: the first hot day of
summer causes brownouts and blackouts because everyone sets their
thermostat for 72 degrees and they all kick on at the same time.
Great, now you have no A/C at all and it's 100F outside.

The deal doesn't sound all that bad:
1) You get a free programmable thermostat (this alone saves you money)
2) The cycling only happens during peak times (3pm-7pm) of peak months.
3) Cycling doesn't happen more often, it just happens at better times.
4) You can remove yourself from the project temporarily or permanently.

What I get from #3 is they want to setup a sequence across the grid so
that as one house cycles on, another one cycles off .. to keep all the
houses from cycling on at the same time and causing brownouts.  You
control the temperature, they control when the A/C runs to maintain
that temperature.

The bigger issue here is that the power grid is overloaded and it's
getting worse as people put more power hungry electronics in their
homes (honestly, who needs 6 computers, 3 gaming systems, and 2 plasma
TVs? ;)).  I suppose the alternative to centralized power cycling
would be to increase electric rates to the point that no one can
afford to run their A/C.  Or maybe do tiered billing like the cell
phone companies and charge 2x more for power during peak times than
off-peak times.

I guess from the security perspective, the only big risk is that
someone could access the system and force everyone's A/C to cycle on
at the same time, thus causing a brownout or blackout.  Of course that
can happen now, it's just not as likely.  It's a voluntary program of
course, but in the end it could help avoid situations like I described


On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 5:02 PM, pcdls.ronin <pcdls.ronin at gmail.com> wrote:
> In general, centralizing technologies are a bad idea as it creates an
> opportunity for controlling bodies to eventually "legislate" away the
> individual's ability to decide for oneself.  Besides, what "genius"
> decided that CPS needs to control our thermostats?  Isn't it *our*
> responsibility to decide for ourselves how hot or cold our homes are?
> Or, how well insulated and energy efficient our homes are?  All economic
> behavior on our parts is dependent upon our personal resources.  We,
> typically, don't let anyone else control our economic behavior.  If, and
> when, we do allow it, it's usually under coercion and force.
> This is a bad idea that I suspect will be fraught with security issues.
> And, there *will* be security issues once you put the power to control
> your AC in the hands of centralized bureaucrats.  Remember, we're
> dealing with people who attempted to commit fraud over the nuclear power
> debacle (in collusion with many political actors, it takes more than
> "two employees" to try to pull that off).
> Now, if they were to provide the technology (linux-enabled with entirely
> open-source applications that utilize a highly encrypted link over ssh
> 2.0) that the user, alone, controls.  Then, I'd probably have no problem.
> pcdls
> Tweeks wrote:
>> Follow up thread I found on this the topic of security and hacker implications
>> of centrally controlled mass AC controls:
>>       http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/01/hacking_thermos.html
>> Tweeks
>> On Saturday 15 May 2010 11:26:53 am Tweeks wrote:
>>> Hey..
>>> I saw a couple of old threads on the CPS offered free digital thermostat.
>>> It looks like it is remote controllable by CPS via two way pager control
>>> w/web integration (on their side).. Not a huge fan of this.. would have
>>> preferred a home broadband connection that I could control.. but whatever.
>>> Does anyone have any info on how controllable these things are?  It's
>>> designed to allow CPS to help regulate peak load distribution so that they
>>> can do some sort of time division smoothing of everyone's AC loads.
>>> Interesting idea.. but I would like to maintain override control if need
>>> be. Any protocol or wired-hack info also of interest, integration with any
>>> linux home automation systems (like Zoneminder, MisterHouse, etc).  I think
>>> it's this model:
>>> TH8000
>>> http://www.yourhome.honeywell.com/Home/Products/Thermostats/7-Day-Programma
>>> ble/VisionPRO+8000.htm
>>> NEway.. lemme know if anyone has really dug into one of these before.
>>> Tweeks
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