BERWYN – While they didn't receive a check from Publishers Clearing House, members of the Gonzalez family in Berwyn seemed just as thrilled when they got a knock on their door May 15.
Representatives of Commonwealth Edison last week announced the four winners of the company's Smart Home Showcase Contest. Two of the chosen families live in Berwyn, while one lives in Maywood and the other is from Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Each family received $45,000 worth of energy-efficient equipment, including Whirlpool brand smart appliances.
"The first thing was that I didn't think it was true," said Leticia Gonzalez. "It was an exciting moment. I was at work, and I remember screaming – I don't know how loud, but I was screaming a lot. I was pretty excited."
Leticia and Rafael Gonzalez have two children, Solymar and Leomar. They have lived in Berwyn for 14 years. The other Berwyn winners were Lisa and Devon Polderman.
Kevin Brookins, ComEd's senior vice president for strategy and administration, said eligible individuals must live in single-family homes in communities that use the utility's smart meter program. These areas are serviced by ComEd's operating center in Maywood, according to information from ComEd.
Eligible families were required to write an essay on why they wanted to be chosen and how they would make use of the equipment, Brookins said.
Whirlpool partnered with ComEd by donating the energy-efficient appliances. Each family also received a solar panel and a Nest Learning Thermostat.
"I learned [about the contest] through the mayor's office and Commonwealth Edison; they both sent me an email," said Berwyn Alderman Rafael Avila, who was on hand at the Gonzalez household. "As soon as I found out in an email, I blasted it out to my constituents asking them to participate. So it was nice when I heard that they won, one down the street from my home; I was really excited about that."
"What I think is it's a nice prize to win," Rafael Gonzalez said. "I can't wait to have all that inside and start working."
Leticia Gonzalez said being chosen in this contest was a truly humbling experience.
"We've never won something this magnificent," she said. "And now to be able to share our experiences with the community and the people we know about how we can conserve energy using smart appliances and technology, I think that's great."