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Money-saving programs worth bragging about

Thanks to efficiency programs offered by Illinois’ major utilities, saving energy—and money— is easier than ever before.

CUB chose seven of its favorite energy efficiency programs from across Illinois. (See them below in no particular order.)

  1. Lighting Discounts

Under ComEd’s Energy Efficiency program, you can receive instant in-store discounts on select ENERGY STAR certified CFLs and LEDs. Look for the ComEd “Lower Price” sticker to save on a variety of energy efficient light bulbs at participating retails stores. No coupon is required—prices shown reflect the instant discount.

Check for retailers near you. (Remember, only 16 bulbs per customer.)

Note: Ameren offers a similar program

  1. Refrigerator and Freezer Recycling program

ComEd allows you to recycle your old, working refrigerator and will give you $50 for the trouble. Replacing your refrigerator with a new, more efficient model can save you up to $150 a year on electricity. Sign up online or call 1-855-433-2700 to schedule a pick up.

Ameren used to offer a similar program, but the utility has met its goal of 75,000 refrigerators and has suspended its program.

  1. Appliance & Thermostat Rebates

Don’t let the upfront cost of buying energy-efficient household appliances and equipment scare you. According to the Department of Energy, consumers who replace their appliances with newer models can save nearly $250 a year, and those savings are expected to grow to $360 annually by 2030. ComEd’s  energy-efficient appliance and smart thermostat rebates help to ease some of the initial burden. Interested shoppers should call 1-855-433-2700 or go online to review eligibility requirements and complete rebate applications.

ComEd, Ameren, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas all offer rebates of $100 or more for smart thermostats. Check out the energy efficiency page for more information.

  1. Home Energy Assessment

ComEd, in conjunction with Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and Nicor Gas offer a Home Energy Assessment Program. Participants can receive a free personalized home energy assessment, and installation of free energy-saving products, such as smart power strips, efficient light bulbs, low-flow shower head and programmable thermostats. You can also choose to have a smart thermostat and LEDs installed which are available for purchase at a discount. The home energy assessment technician also identifies additional ways for you to save during the review.

The Home Energy Assessment program is available to owners of single-family homes, two-flats, condos and townhomes. Renters, don’t worry; you’re also eligible, with permission from your landlord. Call ComEd, at 1-855-433-2700 to get started.

  1. Energy Efficient Heating & Weatherization Rebates

Nicor’s efficient heating and weatherization rebates can help when the colder months roll around. Rebates for energy efficiency improvements and products, such as attic and wall insulation, installation of high efficiency furnaces and boilers, and duct sealing, are available to all current residential Nicor Gas customers. Learn how to install qualifying products and complete home upgrades online.

6. Central AC Cycling 

ComEd will give you $5 or $10 off your monthly electric bill between June and September for allowing the utility to remotely cycle your central air-conditioner off and on during the hottest days of the year.

Only the compressor gets cycled off. The fan will continue to circulate already cooled air, so you may not even notice a difference in your home. But such programs can make a big difference by reducing electricity demand on hot summer days to help prevent power outages, lower rates and improve the environment.

You can choose between two cycling options:

50 percent

  • Time: Weekdays (excluding holidays), 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Unit cycles off: Maximum of 15 minutes every half hour (if needed).
  • You receive: $5 credit/month per household, June 1 through Sept. 30.

The total credit will be $20.

100 percent (if someone in your household is home during most of the day or has a medical condition this option is not recommended)

  • Time: Weekdays (excluding holidays), 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Unit cycles off: Up to three house for a full air conditioning interruption (turns air conditioner off) or can be cycled up to six hours like the 50 percent cycling option at ComEd’s discretion.
  • You receive: $10 credit per month per household, June 1 through Sept. 30. The total credit will be $40.

To participate in the program, go to ComEd’s website, or call 800-986-0070.

Note: Ameren doesn’t currently have a program like this, but CUB will continue to push for similar incentives.

7. Peak Time Rewards/ Peak Time Savings

Under Peak Time Savings, ComEd gives you a bill credit for reducing electricity use during “peak times” on a few summer days when power demand is highest. The Peak Time Savings credit will appear as dollars off your total amount due in the “Miscellaneous” section of your bill. The amount you earn back will be based on your typical usage compared with what you used during one of these peak times.

Under Peak Time Rewards, Ameren will notify you of a “Peak Time Rewards event”—typically a few hours on a hot summer afternoon when electricity demand is expected to increase significantly. If you can reduce your electricity during that event, the utility will reward you with a bill credit for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) you save below a personal baseline. The baseline, which is different for each customer, is determined by reviewing your usage on similar days prior to the event. The credit will appear in the “Bill Message” section of your bill.

Note: You cannot participate in Peak Time Savings and AC Cycling at the same time.

The programs you see here are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to programs that prove it pays to be energy efficient. See CUB’s Energy Efficiency page.