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Hagerstown Light Department to give away thermostats

Grant will provide for installation of programmable thermostats in 100 owner-occupied homes

February 18, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Customers of the Hagerstown Light Department will soon be able to apply for a free thermostat through the city.

The Hagerstown Light Department received a $35,000 EmPOWER Clean Energy Communities grant from the Maryland Energy Administration in December to purchase and install programmable thermostats in approximately 100 owner-occupied homes.

The city has put the project out to bid and expects to select a contractor for it by the end of February, City Utility Director Mike Spiker said in an e-mail.

Spiker said the city should start accepting applications from residents for the thermostats in March.

In keeping with the spirit of the grant, the new thermostats will be programmable, digital and energy efficient, Spiker wrote.

"This will allow a customer to control their heating/cooling costs by programming the time of operation, i.e. change the settings automatically if the home is empty during the day or during the late hours when many residents are in bed," he wrote.

Only customers now using standard thermostats to control heating and air conditioning are eligible to receive the thermostats, Spiker said.

Customers must also meet a low-to-moderate income threshold, earning less than $72,850 of combined family income per year, and own the home they occupy, he wrote.

However, he cautioned that "an application for the installation will not guarantee that a resident will receive a thermostat."

City residents who are customers of Allegheny Power will not be eligible for the program.

Each thermostat will cost an estimated $350, Spiker said.

The bid chosen by the city and the total funding amount will dictate the exact number of thermostats installed, but the city hopes to install about 100 thermostats, Spiker wrote.

Residents should soon see advertisements for the project in the Herald-Mail, on the city's website and Antietam Cable channel 6, he said.

Residents will be able to call a phone number to apply, and applications will be evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis, he said.

Maryland issued 41 grants through the EmPOWER program. A local chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, a nonprofit organization that runs a training program for building trades, received a $35,920 grant.

The money will be used to train students to weatherize houses, a chapter representative said previously.

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