Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Report: Online tool cut cooling bills

BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporter
Chicago Sun-Times
 October 2, 2012

The summer’s record-breaking heat raised ComEd customers’ bills about 7.2 percent, as Chicagoans tried to stay cool inside. But consumers who used an online energy-saving tool wiped out most of the extra cost, according to a report being released Tuesday by the Citizens Utility Board.
Chicagoans who used the online tool erased 70 percent of the extra costs caused by the record heat, CUB’s report said.
The city’s third-hottest summer cost Commonwealth Edison consumers an extra $64 million — about $5 a month for the average customer over the four-month summer season, CUB said in the report. But those who used CUB Energy Saver, the agency’s free online tool at, paid only an additional $1.50 a month, on average, according to the report.
This summer’s 45 days of 90-degree or higher temperatures included six days of record-tying or record-breaking heat or dryness, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
The records included the highest temperature, 103 degrees, and highest low, 82 degrees, both on July 6.
The study said Illinoisans used an average of 7.2 percent more electricity this summer than last, but users saw only a 2.1 percent increase.
Energy savers used fewer lights, turned off the air conditioner when they were away and turned off energy-slurping appliances such as coffee makers, said David Kolata, CUB’s executive director.
The top 10 actions CUB Energy Saver users have taken, ranked according to popularity, are:
◆ Use fewer lights at home.
◆ Replace traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
◆ Turn off the coffee maker after brewing.
◆ Dry clothes outside or on a drying rack instead of using the dryer.
◆ Lower window blinds on summer days to keep the home cooler.
◆ Use a smart power strip, which can help consumers combat “vampire power,” energy eaten by computers, TVs and other appliances that are plugged in but not being used.
◆ Wash larger loads of dishes.
◆ Use the microwave, which burns less power than an oven and doesn’t overheat the home.
◆ Buy an efficient gas clothes dryer rather than an electric one.
◆ Turn off the air conditioner one hour before leaving home.

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