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Why we care about energy efficiency

Our recently-finished quarterly newsletter, The CUB Voice, is our “green” issue, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Some of our leaders in Washington want to defund Energy Star, an efficiency program that has cut business and residential utility bills by $430 billion since its inception in 1992. Here in Illinois, we’re battling Ameren to give its customers the full efficiency benefits provided for by the Future Energy Jobs Act.

Efficiency is one of the most effective ways to cut your power bills, but we run into a few skeptics who wonder why they have to pay a fee on their electric bills to support such programs. Does this mean you have to invest in a brand-new refrigerator to get the benefits? Well, no.

It’s true buying a more efficient appliance is a wise investment—especially if there’s a discount attached to it—because you’ll get your money back in savings on your utility bills. But the beauty of efficiency programs that provide discounts and other financial incentives is that all customers benefit from these programs, even those who don’t participate in them.

That’s because efficiency lowers overall electricity/gas demand, and that lowers energy prices for all.

Those efficiency programs are a big reason Illinois has the lowest average monthly power bill in the Midwest, and one of the lowest in the nation, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. (Before CUB opened its doors, Illinois had some of the highest bills.)

That doesn’t mean our work is finished. We’re pushing the big utilities to carry out the new requirements of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which is boosting efficiency standards and expected to cut power bills by billions of dollars through 2030. And just because we believe efficiency is a new weapon in the war on high bills doesn’t mean we’re abandoning our traditional ways of fighting for utility customers. We still need your help as we fight $8 billion in rate hikes in front of the Illinois Commerce Commission. Right now, all donations are being matched, so your contribution has twice the power!