HUGHESVILLE, Md. (Jan. 23, 2010) - Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) is launching several new energy efficiency programs in accordance with the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008. This legislation gives the Maryland Public Service Commission authority to approve conservation programs and funding sources to reduce the amount of energy that customers of electric utilities use. The state's goal is to reduce per capita energy use by 15 percent by the year 2015.
According to Jeff Shaw, SMECO's Environmental Programs and Energy Conservation Manager, the co-op is offering energy efficiency programs that will appeal to all customer-members. "We have programs for commercial customers and programs for residential customers. We have several levels of participation, with some programs offering no-cost or low-cost opportunities to save energy, while some require a greater investment and offer more substantial savings," he said.
Shaw added, "One quick, low-cost opportunity to save energy and save money in the home is to replace all incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), as well as replacing energy-hungry appliances with energy-saving models."
SMECO is underwriting discounts on ENERGY STAR® qualified CFLs on sale at participating area stores. SMECO customer-members can save as much as $1.50 per CFL. Discounts are given directly at the time of purchase.
Rebates are also available for ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers and refrigerators. Customer-members will receive a $50 rebate by mail within six to eight weeks of purchasing a new appliance. In the coming months, SMECO will also offer rebates on qualified room air conditioning units and electric water heaters.
Customer-members who have old refrigerators and freezers can save energy and save money by recycling these appliances. SMECO will pick up and recycle old, working models and dispose of them, then pay a $50 bonus to customer-members for participating in the recycling program.
SMECO will also offer financial incentives ranging from $75-$400 for improving energy-efficiency heating and cooling systems. In addition to high-efficiency units, SMECO's programs will promote quality installation and diagnostic tune-ups, as well as properly sealed duct distribution systems. According to Shaw, properly sealed ducts improve airflow and comfort, reduce equipment run times, and lower operating costs. Only participating contractors are eligible to offer SMECO rebates and services for EmPOWER Maryland heating and cooling programs.
Customer-members can receive a Quick Home Energy Check-up. The Check-up includes a one-hour walk-through of the home by a Check-up professional who will check insulation levels, air tightness, heating and cooling systems, windows, doors, and appliances. Upon completion of the Check-up, customer-members will receive a summary of findings to show them how to reduce the amount of energy they use in their homes. The Check-up professional will also install at least three energy-saving items, such as CFLs, faucet aerators, an efficient-flow shower head, pipe insulation, an electric water heater tank wrap, or an electric outlet smart strip at no cost.
SMECO also has programs to help large and small businesses save energy with customized financial incentives and technical assistance to meet individual needs in energy efficient lighting, HVAC systems, motors, and commercial refrigeration systems for new or existing facilities. Financial incentives from SMECO cover up to 50 percent of the total cost for retrofit projects and up to 75 percent of the incremental cost for new construction and replacement of equipment at the end of its lifespan.
In the coming months SMECO will introduce additional residential programs including home energy audits and energy- and cost-saving improvements for income-qualified homeowners. SMECO will work with local builders and home raters to increase availability of ENERGY STAR qualified homes. ENERGY STAR qualified homes are at least 15 percent more efficient than standard homes and can save customer-members hundreds of dollars each year. Through its Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program, SMECO can help customer-members reduce their energy use through comprehensive home energy audits and improvements done by specially trained, certified contractors. For older homes that are inefficient, energy savings of 20 percent or more are targeted. SMECO will provide financial incentives to help offset improvement costs.
More details on SMECO's EmPOWER Maryland programs are available at www.smeco.coop/save. These programs support EmPOWER Maryland.