Survive This Economy: Cutting Your Monthly Energy Bill

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s getting colder outside and you know what that means: more expensive utility bills, making it even harder for millions of people to “Survive This Economy.”

But there are simple changes you can make around your home that can help you and families like the Wrights save money.

The suburban couple has four kids, so their TVs, computers and appliances are working overtime.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker visited the Wrights’ home with an “energy doctor,” whose prescription for the Wrights is painless and will save them hundreds of dollars.

With three children at home the Wrights use a lot of energy, paying about $100 a month to ComEd.

To help reduce that bill CBS 2 called on ComEd’s “Energy Doctor,” Mary Freestone.

Using a “Kill A Watt” meter, which anyone can check out from the library, you can tell how much energy your appliances are using by plugging the appliance into the meter.

The Wrights’ fax machine uses just 4 watts, but freestone still suggested unplugging it.

“You figure you use it for an hour a day or hour a week. That’s a lot of time that it’s just sitting there using energy. So that’s an easy way to save.

You’ll only save a few pennies by unplugging most small appliances, but when the Wrights leave their computer on, it’s sucking up 75 watts. Turn it off or put it to ‘sleep’ for 16 hours at night and they’ll save $4 a month.

The Wrights can also save energy and money by making sure big appliances like the refrigerator are working properly.

She suggested closing a dollar bill in between the refrigerator door’s rubber seal and the refrigerator itself, then tugging the bill to see if there’s any resistance.

If the bill slides right out, you need to replace the seal, because cold air is leaking out of your fridge.

Freestone also suggested cleaning the coils off the back of your fridge, so that it won’t work as hard and use less energy.

You should also remove any ice that builds up on the walls of your freezer.

“That can get in the way of the seal … which is going to make this freezer need to turn on more frequently, which is going to use more energy.”

You also should turn lights off when they’re not being used, which can save the Wrights can another $10 a month.

Turning down the thermostat about eight degrees at night reduces the family’s energy usage by 10 percent and saves $10 more a month.
So, if the Wrights are diligent, they could save about $24 a month just by changes in their habits and becoming more energy conscious.

They’ve already saved $137 dollars by taking the advice of a credit card expert.

More from Dorothy Tucker
  • Doug Sintich

    The report on the family trying to save money on their com-ed bill was scary, we have a 1173 sq ft home, 4 tvs and 3 are unplugged, a dish washer unplugged an entertainment center (theater) unplugged, several clocks, radios and a second computer unplugged.
    We would LOVE to have a $100.00 monthly bill, our current is $140.00 plus we have to pay over $700.00 in arrears because we were about $15-20.00 off of our budget plan, my wife pays the bills and did not notice the plan had increased so they are making us pay the non-budget amount and want us to pay on an interest “catch-up” plan…we were not even able to run the pool we’ve had for 12 years this season.
    My wife has epilepsy, encephalopathy and is on several medicines that impair her ability to function.
    I am currently on disability. 50 years old and wondering why com-ed does not care about out current situation.

  • Not Happy

    You don’t need an “Energy Doctor” or a “Kill-a-Watt” to determine what runs your electric bill sky-high.

    I have unplugged everything in the apartment. I recharge my laptop and cell phone at work. The only thing plugged in at home is a medium sized energy efficient fridge. I make my morning coffee in a percolator on the gas stove.

    TV is unplugged. So is the cable box and VCR/DVD player. Most lights are battery operated, so is my clock radio.

    I still get a huge electric bill each month and can’t figure out what for. I never ever ever got on that budget plan.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live