One of our parental responsibilities is taking our kids to see the doctor for regular check-ups. It turns out that we can do the same for our homes. ComEd has Energy Doctors to do a check-up for your home.
Aidan Gilbert, one of the energy doctors, answers some questions about how energy doctors are helping Chicagoland families make their homes more efficient.
Why do I need a ComEd Energy Doctor?
“You get an electric bill once a month and it lists the total kilowatt hours you used for the month. But people don’t know what that means or how that translates to their behavior,” Gilbert says. Energy Doctors find ways to help you make those connections and save money on your next energy bill.
A good place to start is to have an Energy Doctor conduct a Home Energy Assessment to receive tips about replacing inefficient lighting with LED lights and other energy-saving products, such as smart thermostats.
In special cases, eligible customers can receive a house call from an Energy Doctor through the Home Energy Management Program. Gilbert says when he conducts a Home Energy Management visit, he starts by analyzing graphs of the customer’s smart meter data, which can reveal patterns or issues in a home’s energy usage.
What are the benefits of reaching out to a ComEd Energy Doctor?
One of the biggest benefits is cost savings. An Energy Doctor is trained in finding you opportunities to save, Gilbert says. “Usually, that makes folks pretty happy.”
Sometimes that savings requires undertaking an energy-efficiency project, which can be as simple as adjusting your thermostat two or three degrees, or as involved as replacing an inefficient air conditioner that can make a big energy-saving difference, Gilbert says.
Are there easy ways people can make their homes more energy efficient right now?
Gilbert says there are several ways that he consistently recommends to consumers.
“LED light bulbs can be an easy switch and often come with instant discounts at local retailers,” Gilbert says. Opting for a smart thermostat can be a good option for families with constantly changing schedules, plus consider selecting ENERGY STAR certified appliances when possible.
Gilbert also recommends keeping up with general maintenance around HVAC systems, including changing filters when recommended and making sure that the space around your air conditioner is clear. “When your air conditioner is surrounded by plants, it doesn’t get proper air flow and it doesn’t work as efficiently as it could.”
Another scenario Gilbert commonly sees is when someone is dealing with moisture or a flood in the basement. “They crank up the dehumidifier, but then forget about it so even when the moisture is no longer a problem, it’s still running for hours on end,” he says.
How important is it for the whole family to be involved?
“It’s important that reducing energy use be a family effort,” Gilbert says. On some of his home visits, kids have confessed to opening windows when the air conditioner is on or even changing vents and settings to achieve their desired temperature, unbeknownst to their parents.
He recommends “getting everyone on the same page,” and notes that a home energy assessment can give kids valuable information and ways to be smart energy users that will be valuable now and into the future.
How else can parents encourage kids to be smarter about their energy usage?
Gilbert says, “Make it fun!”
One way to do that by attending ComEd’s annual Switch on Summer event noon- 3 p.m., May 5, at the iconic Buckingham Fountain in Chicago.
WGN Meteorologist Tom Skilling will host the event, which features great music by Sixteen Candles and fun games to help families learn more about saving money and energy. It is also a time to celebrate the fact that summer really is coming – finally! The fountain will be switched on at 2 p.m.
Learn more at ComEd.com/SwitchonSummer.