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Before Solar...You Should Think Energy Efficiency

Foluke Akanni, Sustainable Communities Liaison, Citizens Utility Board

Many people want to put solar on their rooftops, but before you take advantage of the great solar incentives you should think about energy efficiency.

Retrofitting your home to be energy efficient will help you reduce your energy usage and help reduce your solar cost for the future.

Since 2008, energy efficiency programs have helped save northern Illinois consumers more than $4 billion dollars, and thanks to strong state legislation, like the Future Energy Jobs Act, efficiency programs have been expanded. Here are some ways to reduce your energy usage and lower your utility bills.

Free Home Energy Assessment

ComEd residential customers who have Nicor, North Shore and Peoples Gas can sign up for a free Home Energy Assessment. During the assessment an Energy Advisor will do a walk-through to find ways to make your home more efficient and can install the following free

efficiency products :

:• ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs

• Programmable thermostat

• WaterSense® certified showerheads

• WaterSense® certified faucet aerator

• Hot water pipe insulation

• Advanced power strips for televisions and desktop computers

• Smart thermostats are available for purchase at a discount (must be purchased during the assessment for free installation).

At the end of the assessment, the Energy Advisor should provide you with a Home Energy Report, which lists the products installed and the estimated yearly savings in electricity, gas, water and money.

Why is this free? ComEd and your gas utilities are required to provide energy efficiency programs in compliance with state law and are allowed to charge ratepayers a small fee for the program on their bills. In other words you’re paying for it so you might as well take advantage of it as a homeowner.

Any single-family homes, two-flats, condos and townhomes are eligible. To take advantage of this program, please call 1.855.433.2700


Another great way to help lower your bills is by using less energy to cool or heat your home. Adding insulation and sealing leaks around your home will help reduce your energy usage. Here are some great weatherization programs:

If you are income-eligible, live in Chicago and own a home that is 50 years or older, you qualify for the Chicago Bungalow Association Energy Savers Program. The program provides a free home energy audit and weatherization for your home.

There’s also Elevate Energy’s Energy Impact Illinois program for single family homes. The program gives you a free audit and rebates from your gas utility to have your home weatherized. After the rebates, you will have to pay some money out-of-pocket for the full weatherization of your home.

Energy Savings programs

Peak Time Savings, Hourly Pricing and AC Cycling are programs that can help you reduce your energy usage and your utility cost. You can read more about these great energy saving programs through the ComEd website. These are part of the energy efficiency programs ComEd is mandated to do by law.

Energy Efficiency Lighting- LED

LED light bulbs are about 90 percent energy efficient and they last longer. Thanks to state-mandated efficiency incentives, you can find discounted LEDs at various retail stores. Or, you can sign up for the free Home Energy Assessment and get the LED light bulbs for free.

Smart Thermostats

A smart thermostat lets you monitor and control your home’s temperature from any web-enabled device, so you can save energy and money whether you’re at home, work or out of town on vacation. The thermostats allow you to lower and monitor your energy usage through this device. ComEd provides a $100 rebate towards purchasing a thermostat. Check ComEd’s website for more information.

Once you make your home more energy efficient, you can start your search for solar and all things renewable.

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