Oak Park couple nears $1,500 in savings with Real-Time Pricing
Friday, March 1, 2013—Cutting the monthly electric bill isn't a chore for Peg and Rick Sabatino—it's a challenge.

The couple, who have lived in their Oak Park home for more than 30 years, signed up for ComEd's Real-Time Pricing program when it first became available in 2007. Since then, they've managed to save close to $1,500, or about $25 a month.

"It gets to be a game," said Rick, a home inspector who regularly recommends the program to clients. "How can we save even more?"

Real-Time Pricing participants pay an hourly market rate for electricity, rather than a fixed price. (Note: Ameren customers can participate in a similar program, called "Power Smart Pricing.") When electricity demand is low—typically in the early morning and late evening hours—the price of electricity can plunge below 2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Likewise, prices can climb when demand peaks, typically on hot summer afternoons.

That means consumers can save big bucks by shifting high-energy activities, like laundry and running the dishwasher, to times when prices are low.

Day-ahead price predictions help Real-Time Pricing customers like Peg and Rick plan their electricity usage to take advantage of low power prices, and customers can receive email or text alerts when prices spike above 10 or 14 cents per kWh.

Reducing electricity demand during peak hours not only helps the Sabatinos cut their energy bills, said Peg. It helps lower power prices for everyone.

The program also has transformed the Sabatinos into self-made energy efficiency experts. The have traded in many of their old, inefficient appliances—like a "tube" television and an energy-gulping coffee-maker—for more efficient models. They've also invested in a high-tech "Nest" thermostat, which allows them to control their home's temperature even when they're not there, and installed motion detectors to cut back on lighting costs.

How do I learn more about
Power Smart Pricing?

See CUB's Real-Time Pricing and Power Smart Pricing fact sheets. Both programs are managed by CNT Energy, a Chicago nonprofit organization.
"The only incandescent bulb left in the house is in the refrigerator," Rick said.

For the Sabatinos, Real-Time Pricing isn't just about saving energy—it's about regaining control over their power bills.

"People feel helpless and hopeless when it comes to their utility bills," Peg said. "Costs may go up, but we have control over our bill."