Summer Electric Bills are Stressful - U of I Extension

News Release

Summer Electric Bills are Stressful

This article was originally published on May 8, 2018 and expired on November 1, 2018. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.


Morgan Newell

University of Illinois  

County Extension Unit #25 Director                                      350 N. 7th St. Albion, IL.  62806

Edwards-Lawrence-Richland-Wabash-Wayne                      Ph: 618.445.2934



                                                                                                May 7, 2018




Spring arrived and glimpses of Summer are showing. Did you know that up to one half of our annual, home energy use is consumed in heating and cooling? Summer is expensive with regard to electricity, while monthly income remains the same- and that is a concern. My goal for energy use awareness is to help you save $15 to $20 monthly that can then be applied elsewhere in your budget. With this in mind, I will gladly share some tips:

1. Let’s start with the easiest- LED light bulbs. Prices have dropped to under $3.00 per bulb and can last 15,000 hours.  Consumer organizations have estimated that converting all of your bulbs will save you over $8.00 per month. So, my thought is to replace two bulbs per month until all have been switched over. The change will pay for itself. Also, look for giveaways at senior fairs and community expos. Some organizations provide bulbs as a gift to consumers.

2. The next easy one- look for drafts and air leaks. These are detrimental to keeping your home cool in the summer! Most can be fixed with weatherstrip sealing materials and calks available from a local hardware store. Whatever you use to keep drafts out in winter needs to stay in place to fight summer heat, including window blinds.

3. Of course keeping the thermostat set higher (in summer) has electric bill saving potential. The US Department of Energy recommends a 78 degree setting when at home. Some alternate cost-saving cooling methods-

·         Lightweight & breathable clothing

·         Ceiling and other type fans, but only when rooms are occupied (on & off is OK)

·         Avoid using the oven

Add these to the previously suggested ideas of unplugging chargers, small & entertainment appliances for eight hours or more (while sleeping and out-of-the-house).  Power strips make it easy to shut off multiple items with one easy to reach switch. Remember, if you see a glowing light of any kind, the item continues to draw and use “phantom power” that adds to your bill.

4. If you have a manual thermostat, turn it higher when leaving the home (80 to 85 degrees). As an alternate, inquire with your utility company and senior services center to see if any rebates are offered on programmable thermostats. While still expensive (often $170 or more), a rebate can drop the price significantly. Estimates show that you can recover your investment in two years. This is also a great reason for checking in periodically with your electricity provider. Make time to see what other helpful programs and items they have. Ask, ask, ask… and the same for the senior services in your county. A good rule-of-thumb is to check on-line first and then speak with a customer service representative.

5. Last, but not least- cooling systems should be checked annually for proper functioning. The simple steps listed above will more than cover the inspection. This service is best provided by a trained professional as systems should be matched to your home’s size. Also, with new equipment, there are varied levels of energy efficiency to be explained and understood. Rebates and credits might apply too. Best wishes for a safe and happy Summer!

Steven Groner, Extension Educator, e-mail                                             

The SMART METER Education Team is funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation



University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.  If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact the Edwards Co. Extension office at 618.445.2934


Source: Steven Groner, Extension Educator, Community and Economic Development,

Pull date: November 1, 2018