Building owners can take actions to reduce energy use, such as investing in air sealing and insulation. In the summer, cold air sinks and leaks out of the bottom of a building, leaving a low-pressure region inside near the roof. If a building has been properly sealed and insulated in this region, hot air cannot get into this cool, low-pressure area as easily. This keeps hot air out and reduces air conditioning bills.
For people who are on one the state’s two residential hourly pricing programs—ComEd Residential Real-Time Pricing and Ameren’s Power Smart Pricing—there are ways to save energy and reduce utility bills during summer as well. Hourly or real-time pricing allows customers to pay a fluctuating hourly price for electricity, a price driven by the market demand for energy.
Hourly electricity prices typically fluctuate most in the summer, and prices tend to be highest in the late afternoon and when the weather is particularly hot. The more you can shift your use to off peak times, the greater potential you have to save, especially during the summer. As a general rule of thumb, to manage summer electricity costs, reduce usage between noon and 5 p.m. on weekdays. With hourly pricing, you’ll have more control over your costs. Here are four key tips:
Change your thermostat to a warmer temperature setting when electricity prices are high and when you are away from home. Set window air conditioners to the low or “energy-saver” setting or turn them off when electricity prices are high. To stay cool and cut costs, try pre-cooling your home at night when electricity prices tend to be low.
Do laundry when electricity prices are lower, and wash in cold water to save on water heating costs. Make sure the dryer doesn’t run longer than needed, or use a clothes line or drying rack to dry clothes without spending a dime on energy.
Avoid using electric ovens and stoves during high price times. A microwave will heat small portions more efficiently. To avoid heating up the kitchen on hot days, enjoy no-cook meals, or grill outside. Run the dishwasher when electricity prices are lower, use the energy-saver or no-heat dry setting, and only run full loads of dishes.
Charge devices such as cell phones, tablets, and cordless tools at night when electricity prices are lower. Unplug electronics that are not in use or use a power strip to avoid wasted “standby” power.
CNT Energy administers Power Smart Pricing and Residential Real-Time Pricing. Want to know if hourly pricing programs are a good fit for you? Find out at www.ComEd.com/RRTP (1-888-202-RRTP) or www.powersmartpricing.org (1-877-655-6028).