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Bill Clinic Briefs: CUB member learns how she can save $260 a year 

CUB member Karen Kamis attended a utility bill clinic in Streamwood.

Longtime CUB member Karen Kamis visited a CUB utility bill clinic in Streamwood a few weeks ago. This wasn’t her first visit to one of our clinics, but she likes getting her bills reviewed by someone with a trained eye. And this particular visit uncovered $260 a year in potential savings.

She met with Foluke Akanni, CUB’s Sustainable Communities Liaison, who quickly discovered that Karen had Constellation as her electric supplier. By leaving the alternative supplier and returning to her regulated electric utility ComEd, Karen could save $7 per month, or $84 a year.

“The only reason I signed up with Constellation is because they convinced me there wasn’t a difference. I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’,” she said. “But…I’m losing $7 per month, and $7 a month adds up.”

Foluke showed Karen how to compare alternative supplier charges to the utility and where to find the different charges on her bill. “Now I know what I should be looking for and where to look for it,” she said.

But Foluke wasn’t finished with her analysis. She also discovered that Karen was signed up for a furnace maintenance plan with Nicor Home Solutions. Marketed as low-cost insurance to protect against high-cost, emergency repairs, maintenance plans can cover everything from sewer lines to kitchen appliances, from surge protection to your water heater. These plans may look attractive on the surface, but as Karen found out, they too often turn out to be more restrictive than helpful and more money than they’re worth

For several years, Karen had been paying $15 per month for her maintenance plan — a total of $180 per year. Foluke advised her to find a more cost-effective local technician to perform maintenance as needed instead of paying for the plan.

Foluke points out different charges on Karen’s utility bills.

“It’s just not worth it when you add it all up,” Karen said.

After her one-on-one consultation with Foluke, Karen said any CUB event is “very much worth my time.” 

“I may not be able to keep up with donations every year as I’d like, but I tell everyone I can about CUB,” Karen said. “It’s such a great resource.”

Thanks to Foluke, Karen will pocket over $260 a year by making a few simple switches.

“That’s what utility bill clinics are all about,” said Sarah Moskowitz, CUB’s Outreach Director. “There’s nothing better than a consumer leaving one of our clinics with smaller bills and more confidence and knowledge navigating the utility world.”

CUB’s outreach team held a record 569 events in 2019.  Check our events page to see where we’ll be next.