Monday, October 14, 2013
—CUB recently released a report
that estimates Illinois consumers could save up to $37 million a year, thanks to energy efficiency programs offered by electric and natural gas utilities across the state. This guide gives you a summary of those programs.
CUB has declared October "Energy Smart Month," and we're celebrating by giving away energy efficient prizes every week on Facebook, like $100 off your gas or electric bill, and a free home energy audit. Just answer our weekly quiz question
for a chance to win.
Want to find out how much you'll save with energy efficiency improvements? Check out the US Department of Energy's savings calculators
, and create a customized plan to reduce your home's bills with CUB's free tool, CUB Energy Saver
. On average, it's shown consumers how to save more than $100 a year.
Refrigerators—especially older models—can add more than $150 to your yearly electric bill. And government data shows that 31 percent of Illinois consumers own at least two—well above the national average of 23 percent.
and Ameren ($50)
will pay customers to pick up and recycle their old, working second refrigerator or freezer. ComEd will also pay an additional $10 to dispose of a window air conditioning unit.
Lighting alone accounts for roughly 11 percent of a typical household's annual energy consumption, but you can reduce that percentage (and your bill) by replacing old, incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient lighting.
both offer instant discounts on Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs at select stores, like Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Sam's Club and Walmart. No coupon is needed—prices on the shelf reflect the instant discount.
Space heating eats up the bulk of Illinois homes' annual energy usage—roughly 51 percent. But utilities like Peoples Gas
, North Shore Gas
offer discounts of up to $1,000 on energy efficient boilers, furnaces, attic insulation and more.
Electric utilities also offer discounts on central air conditioning systems. For example, customers of both ComEd and Nicor, North Shore, or Peoples Gas can get up to $1,000 for a "complete system replacement
," upgrading both a furnace and central AC.
But it doesn't always take a new furnace to reduce your home's energy costs. Ameren offers discounts
on less expensive money-saving upgrades, like $25 off a programmable thermostat, and a $10 rebate on a smart power strip.
Energy Efficiency Loans!
Utility customers may also qualify for "on-bill financing" for select appliances. That means you can purchase an energy-efficient refrigerator, clothes washer, furnace or AC unit, and pay it off with the savings on your electric bill.
An energy audit can potentially save you thousands of dollars in energy costs over a lifetime.
Just about everyone is on a budget, and deciding which home energy efficiency improvements will provide the most bang for your buck can be difficult to determine. That's just one reason a home energy audit is valuable.
What is a home energy audit? It's when a certified energy professional walks through your home, pinpointing and recommending improvements that can save you hundreds of dollars in energy costs. The auditor will also conduct a "blower test"—isolating costly cracks and gaps that inflate your heating and cooling costs.
Right now, Ameren customers
can get a home energy audit (up to $500 value) for just $49, and Nicor customers
can schedule one for $99. As part of the audit, the energy expert will install energy-saving products, like Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs, low-flow showerheads, and faucet aerators—for free. Peoples Gas
and North Shore Gas
(in conjunction with ComEd) also offer similar "Jumpstart" and "Home Energy Savings" programs, where customers can have these energy-saving improvements done to their homes at no cost.
ComEd and Ameren offer special pricing programs that allow customers to pay the hourly market price for electricity—rather than a fixed seasonal price. That means customers who shift high-energy activities—like doing laundry or running the dishwasher—to off-peak times can save money. That not only reduces participants' electric bills—it helps lower power prices for everyone, and reduces the pollution caused by power plants.
On average, participants of ComEd's Real-Time Pricing
and Ameren's Power Smart Pricing
programs have cut their electric bills by 15 percent. Both programs are managed by CNT Energy, a Chicago non-profit.
Five no-cost tips to cut your energy costs today
1. Dial down the thermostat when you're asleep or away from home.
2. Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
3. Run the dishwasher only when it's fully loaded.
4. Clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator.
5. Power down and unplug electronics and appliances when you're not using them.
Get more energy-saving tips and create a customized plan to cut your bills at CUBenergysaver.com