Assistance from Baltimore Gas and Electric and Constellation Energy Group.
A new assistance program has been created as the result of a donation of shareholder money from the parent of Maryland's largest utility. The program will focus on fixing or replacing aging furnaces for some low to moderate income Baltimore homeowners who may be struggling to pay home heating bills.
Constellation Energy Group is working closely with Baltimore officials to donate over $1 million to the Baltimore Community Foundation. The money will be used to replace or repair failing or broken heating systems and/or furnaces over the next three years.
Another program, the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. Heating System Fund, offers funds in addition to what is available from weatherization initiatives, and this program is funded by federal government stimulus dollars. Money will be used to replace and repaid furnaces, install insulation, caulking around windows, water heater blankets and other in other ways to keep heating bills in check and save families money.
Both programs will allow older gas furnaces, heat pumps, or boilers to be tuned up if possible, but if the unit is unsafe or nonfunctioning, it will be replaced.
The fact is that old or inefficient heating systems and furnaces are usually the single biggest contributors to a high heating bill. As an example, compared to heating units that are 15 years old or more, newer heat pumps can cut energy use by more than half, saving hundreds of dollars.
While the funds are limited, and because the service is in high demand, initially senior citizens, families with disabilities or children and those with excessive heating costs will be given priority, however other low income people can also participate.
Program officials hope to expand eligibility for aid to individuals and families who earn up to 60 percent of the median income for the Baltimore metro area, and the median income for a family of four in the area is $82,100.