Coloradans Locked Out of Thermostats by Utility Company Amid Heatwave

by Jonathan Howard

For Colorado residents, an uncomfortable realization set in as Xcel customers had their thermostats locked due to an ongoing heatwave. The news from the energy company angered many. They offer a program that allows customers to voluntarily opt-in. Part of the program, which helps consumers save money on their energy costs, is that you could lose control of your thermostat from time to time.

Temperatures were reaching up into the 90s leaving Coloradans feeling the heat. Of course, many consumers went to the thermostat to get some relief from the heatwave. 22,000 customers were surprised by the news that they couldn’t adjust the temps in their own homes.

Heatwave Issues

There was a message on their smart thermostats informing them due to an “energy emergency” that they would be unable to make changes. Consumers say that this is something that they can usually override. This time, they could not. The heatwave wasn’t going to let up, either.

“I mean, it was 90 out, and it was right during the peak period,” said Tony Talarico to Denver 7 ABC, an affected Xcel customer. “It was hot.

“Normally, when we see a message like that, we’re able to override it. In this case, we weren’t. So, our thermostat was locked in at 78 or 79.”

Of course, the issues cause a lot of residents to take to social media to complain. There were a lot of those 22,000 people that just didn’t know that they had signed up for this incentive program. While Talarico said his home was in the high 70s, others reported in-home temps of up to 88 degrees.

‘Voluntary Program Xcel Says

In a statement, Xcel explained what the issue was. Those customers had signed up for the Colorado AC Rewards program. This gives residents flexibility to make savings on their energy costs. But, it comes with a few conditions. This is one of them.

“It’s a voluntary program. Let’s remember that this is something that customers choose to be a part of based on the incentives,” the VP of customer solutions explained.

“So, it helps everybody for people to participate in these programs. It is a bit uncomfortable for a short period of time, but it’s very, very helpful.”

This program has been around for many years. However, this was the first time ever in six years of the program that customers weren’t able to override the thermostat control. It just so happened to coincide with a nasty heatwave.

Customers are likely going to look at their energy situation if they are with Xcel. This shocked a lot of people, so it must have been a surprise for many. It also didn’t help this was the first time they couldn’t do anything about it manually. All a recipe for a situation like this.