Saving Energy, Saving Money
• Install LED light bulbs.* They use at least 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
• Invest in EnergyStar appliances. When you are replacing an appliance, choose an energy efficient model, which may be eligible for rebates through your utility company. EnergyStar is a program of the U.S. Department of Energy which uses a standardized system to rate the energy efficiency of products.
• Unplug devices when not in use. Even when electronic devices are powered off, many are still using electricity if they are plugged in. This is called vampire power or phantom load, and can account for over 20% of your electric usage. And remember: Leaving your smartphone plugged in to a charger overnight not only wastes electricity, but it also strains the batteries over time.
• Use an advanced power strip.* Advanced power strips cut electricity when your devices are not in use. They are designed specifically for systems where many devices plug into a central component, like a computer or television, so that when the central component is powered off, so is the rest of the system. It’s a myth that computers will wear out if turned on and off. Monitors also generate a lot of heat, which can drive up your air-conditioning bill.
• Use a low-flow showerhead* which can reduce your home’s water consumption (and the energy used to heat that water) by nearly 50 percent.
• Check your thermostat.* Either a programmable or smart thermostat can lower your heating and cooling costs. A programmable thermostat can be programmed to four different temperature settings, so you can lower energy costs when you are away from the home. A smart thermostat can be controlled remotely using your smartphone, and learns your habits over time to automatically set the most optimum temperature, for both your comfort and your bills.
• Turn down your water heater. Lower the temperature to the warm setting (120 degrees). You can also have hot water pipe insulation* installed, or cover your hot water heater with an insulating blanket.
• Run the dishwasher only if it’s fully loaded. Turn the heated drying selection off.
• Clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator. Also, make sure the door seals are airtight. (Close the door on a piece of paper. You should feel tension when you pull it out.)
• Weather-strip doors and windows to avoid warm air or cool air, depending on the season, from escaping your home.
• Check your attic insulation. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your attic floor. If the insulation is even with or below the attic floor joists, it’s time to add more.
• Schedule a home energy audit. A professional can identify if your home may benefit from attic or wall insulation, or air or duct sealing, which can save on your heating and cooling costs.
If you are below a certain income, you may qualify for free weatherization services. (For ComEd, call 855-433-2700, and for Ameren, call 866-838-6918. Municipal utility or co-op customers can call the Keep Warm Illinois hotline at 877-411-9276.)
Many organizations offer audits at low cost. (Such as Elevate Energy: 855-372-8377.)
You can also contact a local heating and air conditioning business. [To find a contractor, contact the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) at 760-806-3448.]
*You may qualify to receive these energy-efficient products for FREE.
For ComEd, call: 855-433-2700
For Ameren, call: 866-838-6918
Low-income municipal utility or co-op customers call: 877-411-9276.
• Swap out your filters before kick-starting your air conditioner unit for the first time in months.
• Set your thermostat to a smart temperature. Using a ceiling fan (see below), you can raise your thermostat 4 degrees without reducing comfort. Just be smart about it—don’t raise the temperature to an unsafe level. Many utilities recommend setting your thermostat at 74-78 degrees when you’re at home.
• Turn your ceiling fans counter-clockwise to push cool air down. That prevents your air conditioning unit from working too hard to cool your space. (But turn fans off when you leave the room! Fans cool people, not rooms.)
• Turn off your oven. Use outdoor grills or microwaves instead of baking. Not only are you running up your energy use but the heat from the oven also makes your house warmer.
• Use a rain barrel. With a rain barrel, you can collect water to reuse for watering your lawn (which only requires about 2 inches of water per week).
• Swap out your furnace filters before re-starting the heat for the first time in months.
• Set your thermostat to a smart temperature. Blasting the heat can be bad for your furnace and your heating bills, but going too low is dangerous to your health and could freeze your water pipes. Consider setting it around 68 degrees when you’re home.
• Turn your ceiling fans clockwise to circulate warm air throughout your room.
• Drain your outdoor faucets before the temperatures drop to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
• Use LED holiday lights.
• Cook using a crock-pot. The colder weather is a perfect time to cook some nice, warm meals. But you don’t have to pop everything in the oven. Using a crock-pot allows you to use less energy while still making delicious meals.
If you have questions about these tips, please call CUB at 1-800-669-5556 or visit CUB’s Clean Energy page at CitizensUtilityBoard.org/clean-energy.