Speaking of cold weather, here’s an interesting idea: let the government control your home’s thermostat.
Next year in California, state regulators are likely to have the emergency power to control individual thermostats, sending temperatures up or down through a radio-controlled device that will be required in new or substantially modified houses and buildings to manage electricity shortages. — Felicity Barringer, California Seeks Thermostat Control, The New York Times
Note that “required”. Personally, I think this is a bad idea for several reasons, general principles not least among them. My first thought is that it would be trivially easy to defeat — so will “tampering” with your home environment now become a criminal offense?
There’s also the possibility of someone hacking into the control system — say, bringing down the power grid by setting everyone’s thermostat to 90 in winter, or 60 in the summer. According to the article: ‘That is not possible, said Nicole Tam, a spokeswoman for P.G.& E. who works with the pilot program in Stockton. Radio pages â€œare encrypted and encoded,â€ Ms. Tam said.’
Hmm. Encrypted and encoded. Wow. Some of the security aspects are discussed at Schneier on Security: Remote-Controlled Thermostats.