ComEd, which serves the northern portion of Illinois, including Chicago and the suburbs, offers these energy-saving tips.
Twelve no-cost tips
• Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room.
• Keep your home at 78 degrees in the summer, or at the warmest temperature that is comfortable for you.
• When leaving home for more than four hours, raise the thermostat 5 degrees to 10 degrees in summer and lower it 5 degrees to 10 degrees in winter. Do the same at night before going to bed.
• Close south-, east-, and west-facing curtains during the day to keep out solar heat during the summer.
• Clean the coils on your refrigerator twice a year.
• Only heat and cool rooms you use; close vents and doors to rooms that are not being used.
• Keep windows closed and shades down when air conditioning is on.
• Check and clean air conditioning filters monthly and replace as needed.
• Unplug electric chargers, televisions, and audio/video equipment when not in use (or plug them into a power strip you can turn off and on). These devices use electricity even when they are not in use.
• Turn off your computer or put it in "sleep" mode when it is not being used.
• Run energy-intensive appliances such as the dishwasher and clothes washer at night. The heat produced by these appliances will not need to be offset by your air conditioner during the day. Wait until you have a full load to run the dishwasher and clothes washer, and use cold water when possible.
• Keep lamps and televisions away from the thermostat. The heat they generate will cause your air conditioner to work harder. If you're running an old refrigerator in your basement that isn't being used, unplug it. Old refrigerators can use three times the electricity of modern ones.
Eight low-cost tips
• When you're out of your house (and at night when you're asleep), use a programmable thermostat to automatically raise the temperature 5 degrees to 10 degrees in summer and lower it 5 degrees to 10 degrees in winter.
• Install weather stripping on all doors and windows.
• Replace incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They're use about 75 percent less energy, and typically last 10 times longer. Replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 13-watt Energy Star-qualified equivalent CFL could save you, on average, $43 over the life of the bulb.
• Install electric timers on exterior lighting, small appliances, and room air conditioners.
• Add dimmers or occupancy sensors to your home's lighting system.
• If you have any exposed ductwork in your house, seal all joints with a caulk, such as mastic. If you don't, heating (and cooling) could escape before getting where it's supposed to go.
• If you have less than 6 inches to 10 inches of insulation in your attic, you probably need more.
• Consider installing low-flow showerheads and sink aerators to reduce hot water use.