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Folks, we have a winner…

Cue the drum roll: We’re pleased to announce that Donna H. is the lucky winner of CUB’s “Biggest Energy Hog” summer quick poll!

The Chicago-resident beat out more than 2,350 other hopefuls to snag CUB’s top prize—$100 off her power bill and two super-efficient light bulbs. Her name was randomly selected after she voted online for the appliance that drains the most energy from her home.

For her, that appliance was the trusty, old refrigerator.

“During our energy assessment, we were told that our old fridge in the basement is costing us about $35 a month, while our other fridge (newer, but still old) is about $25 a month.” Donna said.

She added that it might be time for new, energy-efficient refrigerators—and we couldn’t agree more. But Donna shouldn’t just throw out those outdated coolers, especially since ComEd will pay residential customers $50 to pick up and dispose of up to two old refrigerators or freezers for free! (Learn how to qualify for the fridge/freezer recycling program.)

Surprisingly, the refrigerator didn’t take the crown for being the “biggest energy hog”. In fact, it came well behind the real hog in the pack—the air conditioner. Almost 60 percent of respondents said that their air conditioner eats up the most energy in their house.

If your air conditioner is putting a dent in your pocketbook, follow these five energy-efficiency tips this summer:

  1. Don’t crank up the AC.  Raising your thermostat by only two degrees and using a ceiling fan can lower air conditioning costs by up to 14 percent. Run fans counter-clockwise, from your position looking up at it, to create a gentle downdraft—and make sure to turn off your fan when you leave the room. (Fans cool people, not rooms.)
  2. Beat the heat. Delay heat-producing tasks, such as dishwashing, baking, or laundry, until the cooler evening hours or early morning.
  3. Clean filters. Clean your air conditioning unit’s filter at least every three months. It’s an easy way to improve the unit’s performance and to save energy.
  4. Give your AC a break. Prevent hot air from seeping in by sealing the gaps around windows and doors. Close doors to rooms that you don’t use as often. Shut blinds or shades during the sunny daytime hours to prevent your air conditioner from working harder to cool the home.
  5. Shut it off.  It’s a myth that if you go out for part of the day, you should keep the air conditioner running so it won’t have to work so hard to cool you off when you get home. You will save energy by turning off the air conditioner when you leave the house.

By following these tips, it should be a piece-of-cake keeping this particular energy hog in line. Want to see how the other appliances fared against the air conditioner? Check out the full results:

Air conditioner: 59.9%

Refrigerator: 24.7%

TV: 6.3%

Lighting: 4.8%

Computer: 4.1%

Beat all your household energy hogs by visiting CUB’s energy efficiency page.