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Frequently Asked Questions


 

Frequently Asked Questions about the SMECO Cool Sentry program


 

Why did SMECO discontinue the previous Load Management program?
We have an opportunity to engage in a much more efficient Load Management program that will allow us to save substantially more power than we previously could. It will also enable us to provide our customer members with leading-edge technology not only capable of saving you money now, but effectively paving the way for new upgrades and services we are planning over the next few years.

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How is SMECO CoolSentry different from the previous Load Management program?
The old Load Management program utilized switches positioned on your hot water heater, heat pump, central air conditioner, or any combination of the three. These switches allowed us to automatically cycle your equipment at times when regional demand for electricity soared. In return for your participation, you had received SMECO bill credits: $2.50 per water heater monthly, over the course of a year; $5 per central A/C unit or heat pump monthly, during the cooling season, June through October.

SMECO CoolSentry will utilize a programmable thermostat or Digital Cycling Unit (DCU), which will activate A/C or heat pump cycling automatically when conditions warrant. In return for your participation, you will receive $50 in SMECO bill credits, annually, awarded June through October. Hot water heaters are not eligible for this program.

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If I don't want a programmable thermostat, can I still participate in SMECO CoolSentry?
A programmable thermostat can help you save money — 10% off your annual heating/cooling bills. But in the event you already have one, or our installation technicians discover that incompatible equipment or poor signal strength in your area makes you ineligible for one, we can install a Digital Cycling Unit (DCU) on your outdoor central A/C unit. DCU participation also rewards you with $50 in annual SMECO bill credits, awarded June through October.

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Will SMECO CoolSentry affect my comfort level?
You probably will not even notice that SMECO CoolSentry is in operation. During the course of a conservation event, the typical temperature change in your home may rise a few degrees, a change most customers in similar programs report they do not notice.

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How will I know when a SMECO CoolSentry conservation event is occurring?
Check your programmable thermostat. When a conservation event occurs, the LED will glow red and the display will read "SAVE" for the duration of the event. If you have a DCU, a red LED will appear in the window of the unit throughout the event.

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How often will SMECO CoolSentry conservation events occur?
Conservation events will only occur during times of peak electricity demand, generally on extremely hot weekday afternoons (between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.) from June 1 through September 30. SMECO CoolSentry will not be activated during weekends and holidays.

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What causes "times of peak electricity demand"?
Peak demand times occur when everyone uses a lot of electricity at the same time. The frequency of peak demand periods has increased as our population and the use of electric appliances has grown — and both have grown tremendously in Southern Maryland over the past 30 years. In Calvert Country alone, SMECO services three times as many customer members, using five times as much energy as we did in 1976. SMECO CoolSentry is just one way we are managing the skyrocketing demand for electricity in our area.

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Will I be able to choose not to participate in any single conservation event?
Yes. You can opt out twice in a season from SMECO events, but not from PJM emergency events. Should you decide to do so, simply call 866-921-9474 and speak with a SMECO CoolSentry customer service representative.

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How will I save more money with SMECO CoolSentry?
We will install a programmable thermostat in your home, which could help you save up to 10% off your annual heating/cooling bills. In addition, you will earn $50 in SMECO bill credits for your full participation over the cooling season — that's $25 more than participants with central air conditioning earned on the previous Load Management program!

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Whom do I call if I need help?
Should you ever have a question or concern about your participation in SMECO CoolSentry, call toll-free 866-921-9474, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for prompt customer service and technical assistance.

If you are already a CoolSentry customer and require immediate assistance outside of our normal business hours, simply call the number above and press "9" to be connected to an after-hours attendant.

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Who is administering SMECO CoolSentry?
SMECO has contracted with a division of Comverge, Inc. to administer the program. Comverge, Inc. is a leading provider of clean energy solutions that improve grid reliability and supply electric capacity on a more cost effective basis than conventional alternatives by reducing base load and peak load energy consumption. To learn more, visit www.comverge.com.

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How can I schedule an installation appointment?
There are two ways to schedule installation of your thermostat:
  1. Visit www.smeco.coop/coolsentry and follow the link to "Schedule your installation"
  2. 2. Call toll-free 866-921-9474 and speak to a SMECO CoolSentry customer service representative.
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Are there penalties for withdrawing from SMECO CoolSentry?
Although there are not any monetary penalties for withdrawing from SMECO CoolSentry, participants must remain in the program for 12 months after their installation is completed to keep the thermostat. Failure to do so will result in our technicians removing it from the property and reinstalling the participant's former thermostat.

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Frequently Asked Questions about SMECO CoolSentry programmable thermostat installation


 

Do I need to be home when the device is installed?
Yes. The thermostat will be installed inside of your home.

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How long will the installation take?
Installation of the thermostat and removal of any existing Load Management program device(s) will take over an hour and will vary based on the number of thermostats/DCUs that must be removed and installed. However, our technician will spend as much time as needed, helping you program your new thermostat, and answering any questions you may have about its operation or the SMECO CoolSentry program. We are flexible and sensitive to your schedule, so our technician will shorten or lengthen the installation call to accommodate you.

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When will the device be installed?
Generally, installation takes place within 4-6 weeks of your enrollment.

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Who provides the installation?
A professional technician from Comverge, Inc., our administrators of this program, will install the equipment. They will provide the same high quality customer service you've been accustomed to as a SMECO customer member.

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Do I have to sign anything?
Prior to installation, our technician will ask you to sign a service order authorizing the installation of your new equipment and guaranteeing your satisfaction with the work.

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What if there's a problem?
We want your participation in SMECO CoolSentry to be as easy as possible. If you have a question about your installation or about the program, just call us toll-free at 866-921-9474, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., for prompt customer service and technical assistance.

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Want to keep your existing thermostat, but still participate? Click here to learn how.