BGE Home and United Way offering free heating systems for Carroll County homeowners

A BGE Home vehicle drives in Bel Air during a snow storm. The company is offering "A Gift of Warmth" to three families again this year.
A BGE Home vehicle drives in Bel Air during a snow storm. The company is offering "A Gift of Warmth" to three families again this year. (David Anderson/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A warm home can be more than a luxury. With local forecasters calling for a cold and snowy winter, a functioning heating system is a basic necessity, though not necessarily one that everyone can afford, according to Dean Bush, marketing director for BGE Home.

“There are needy families who have problems,” he said. “The stories we’ve had in the past, it’s people who had a system, it broke, it’s not repairable, they’ve been running space heaters.”


This year, as it has since 2015, BGE Home — a home services company not associated with BGE the utility — is partnering with The United Way to offer three area families a new heating system for their home. But people must apply, or nominate a family in need of assistance, for the A Gift of Warmth program by Dec. 2.

“We pull the old one out, put the new one in and get everything up to code,” Bush said. “It’s a whole home, heating and air conditioning system replacement.”


People in Carroll County — as well as Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Frederick counties, and Baltimore City — are eligible for nomination. Those interested can nominate a family by visiting www.bgehome.com/promotions/giftofwarmth.

“We turn those over to the United Way and they put a panel together and they look over the submissions,” Bush said. “The United Way picks a family they feel is deserving and flip those out to us.”

“When they are filling out the application they do need to describe an adversity the nominee has encountered,” said Ariana Wilson, resources database administrator for the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline, which also answers questions about the A Gift of Warmth and other programs. Unlike some programs, the adversity that A Gift of Warmth takes into consideration isn’t strictly income related, she said, giving the example of “someone in the household has cancer, or other complex medical issues that are creating a lot of high medical bills.”

It was the 211 line that helped A Gift of Warmth get its start back in 2015, Bush said, when BGE Home reached out to The United Way of Central Maryland and United Way of Frederick, looking for a way to give back and be “good community stewards,” according to Bush.

“They said, every year when it gets cold, we have families call in and say we don’t have heat, it’s not working, what can we do?” he said. “We partnered with Carrier and Train, we do business with them, we said, we want to give away a certain number of systems.”

There are some limitations and requirements. The people nominated must be owners living in their own homes, and certain buildings and former heating systems, oil heaters or mobile homes, for instance, will not work, according to Bush.

“We go out to visit the house to make sure it fits the specs,” he said. “It’s a whole house HVAC system, so if it’s an apartment it won’t work. They have to have duct work. If it’s a bunch of window units it won’t work.”

But since the start of A Gift of Warmth, Bush said, it’s been very popular among BGE Home employees.

“We have employees who volunteer to be a part of this install crew. They love it. They look forward to it every year,” he said. They live in the communities we serve. We have a lot of employees that live in Carroll County.”

Those with questions can call 211, according to Wilson, whether or not they may qualify for the A Gift of Warmth program.

“One of the good things about calling 211 is if somebody is not eligible for this program, we can give them information on other programs that they could be eligible for,” she said. For instance, “The Frederick community Action Agency, they also cover Carroll and Washington counties. They have a weatherization assistance program that covers everything from furnace cleaning and repairs to other basic weatherization services to hopefully make the home more energy efficient.”

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