CUB Report: Com Ed Customers Paying Massive 'Hidden Tax,' Simple Actions At Home Could Save Them $189 Million A Year
Newsroom | News Releases 2011 | CUB Report: Com Ed Customers Paying Massive 'Hidden Tax,' Simple Actions At Home Could Save Them $189 Million A Year
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CHICAGO, June 14, 2011—ComEd customers could be overpaying on their power bills by $189 million a year, but simple actions could cut electricity use by 5.5 percent, spark triple-digit savings, and easily offset ComEd's recent rate hike, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) said Tuesday in a new report analyzing data from a state-of-the-art online tool.

Simple inefficiencies—such as using out-of-date light bulbs or leaving the coffee maker on—amount to a "hidden tax" on ComEd bills, according to CUB's report, "Making Every Kilowatt Count," which marks the one-year anniversary of

CUB Energy Saver, created in a partnership between CUB and two New York City firms, Efficiency 2.0 and Recyclebank®, has hundreds of actions that help families of all incomes slash their electric and natural gas bills. Through a rewards program managed by Recyclebank®, it allows them to track their progress and gives them rewards, such as discounts at Kmart and Sears, if they cut electricity use. The service also allows consumers to see how energy-efficient they are compared with their neighborhood, and it ranks communities according to how much energy and money residents have saved.

"CUB's report shows that we're getting clobbered by kilowatt-hours we don't need—to the tune of nearly $200 million a year. But we can change that," CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. "CUB Energy Saver proves that energy efficiency doesn't mean living in the dark. It means wasting less electricity at home to gain more spending power in the community."

The report, based on data from 11,682 consumers who have signed up for CUB Energy Saver, shows that energy efficiency could overcome even the $156 million rate hike state regulators granted ComEd last month. From last June 2010 to May 2011, CUB Energy Saver showed participants how to:
Reduce annual electricity usage by an average of 5.5 percent, or 412 kWh a year, for an average savings of $55 a year on electric bills. Expanding that figure to ComEd's 3.4 million residential customers means a potential savings of $189 million a year.
Cut a total of 2.3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) and $308,899 from their electric bills.
Save an additional $275,201 on their natural gas bills. Expanding that figure to ComEd's entire customer base means added potential savings of $166 million. Combined with electricity savings, ComEd's 3.4 million residential customers could save potentially $353.6 million a year on energy bills.
Save a combined total of $584,100, or $104 per person, on electric and natural gas bills.
Among hundreds of actions CUB Energy Saver recommends, CUB's report pinpointed the top five consumers chose, along with typical savings from each action:
1. Replace home lights with Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs ($54 a year);
2. Use blinds on summer days ($19 a year);
3. Wash larger loads of dishes ($35 a year);
4. Turn off coffee maker after brewing ($29 a year);
5. Use "smart strips" for plugs ($26 a year).
While the service includes actions such as buying an efficient air conditioner, it also allows participants to easily sort the list of potential, money-saving actions by those that are no- or low-cost. And consumers visiting now can get a list of "summer essentials"—actions they can take specifically to cut costs during the hot, expensive air-conditioning season.

"CUB Energy Saver is filled with free or low-cost money-saving actions that show you don't have to spend money to save money," Kolata said.

In a drive to get more ComEd customers to take advantage of CUB Energy Saver, CUB said everyone who takes a few minutes to sign up for the free money-saving service at through the end of June will be entered in drawings to win a free summer of electricity (June-August), up to $500. One in every 20 new CUB Energy Saver members will win this prize.

CUB Energy Saver also has expanded its program to work with community groups and local governments to allow their constituents to sign up for the service through a special group Web page that promotes their group or community, tracks team savings, and helps them cut their utility bills through special competitions.

CUB is Illinois' leading nonprofit utility watchdog organization. Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, CUB has saved consumers more than $10 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds. For more information, call CUB's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-669-5556 or visit CUB's award-winning website,