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Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd) has launched a contest to award up to four customers within the communities that are part of the company's smart meter pilot program with free, smart home makeovers valued at nearly $45,000 each. The contest, called the Smart Home Showcase, will provide the winners with an energy efficiency overhaul of their homes.

Winners will receive a collection of energy-efficient equipment, including the following:

- Whirlpool smart appliances, including a refrigerator, range, dishwasher, clothes washer and clothes dryer. These appliances are equipped with new convenience and control features, as well as energy management technology that, for example, can make the fridge stop making ice during peak summer times when electricity prices are high.

- Electricity-generating solar panels and battery storage equipment installed by Intelligent Generation. These panels can help reduce energy use by generating and storing electricity for the home.

- A Nest Learning Thermostat that learns from temperature-setting behaviors, preferences and surroundings to automatically create a custom heating and cooling schedule.

- An in-home-display to help monitor household electricity use in real time, predict bill amounts and reduce consumption.

Once the new technologies are installed, ComEd says it will work to evaluate their impact on the winners' energy use, bill amounts and lifestyle.

"This contest will help demonstrate the value that the smart grid will bring, in terms of giving customers greater control over their energy usage," says Mike McMahan, ComEd’s vice president of smart grid and technology. "Smart appliances and thermostats, combined with smart meters, will help customers conserve energy and control costs without their intervention."

The contest is open to customers who own single-family homes in the communities that are part of the company's smart meter pilot program, which encompasses nine towns serviced by the company's Maywood operating center, including Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park, Oak Park and River Forest, and the Humboldt Park area in Chicago. Nearly 130,000 customers in these areas are equipped with smart meters and may be eligible to enter the contest.

Eligible customers must submit an essay of no more than 500 words explaining why they would benefit from a smart home makeover, a photo supporting their explanation, and a statement indicating they have read and understand the contest rules to SmartHomeShowcase@ComEd.com. Entries will be accepted until Jan. 31.


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