Powering sustainability and energy affordability for thousands of Chicago’s revered bungalow homesOctober 6, 2022
For more than a century, ComEd has been powering the Chicago bungalow, the iconic home style which first popped up in the 1910s to meet the needs of immigrants who were pouring into the city for the jobs created by the industrial revolution. While much has changed since then, with ComEd now powering 9 million lives across the region, the company continues to proudly power its historic homes, including nearly 80,000 bungalows that remain standing in Chicago.
To help customers keep pace with modern energy demands, ComEd offers proven energy efficiency programs that help reduce energy usage, helping homeowners and tenants to cut their carbon footprint and lower their utility bills. Owners of the iconic bungalow style and other vintage homes have been proactive in participating in this program, with more than 7,000 bungalows participating in ComEd’s energy efficiency program by taking steps to weatherize their homes. In fact, a total of $26.5 million in weatherization investments have been made in these 7,000 homes.
“A large portion of bungalows reside in the south and west side of Chicago, areas that we know are more vulnerable to the impacts of pollution and climate change, ” said Melissa Washington, ComEd’s chief customer officer and senior vice president of customer operations. “Our energy efficiency program offers a wonderful way for us to support historic homeowners in making simple upgrades that will not only lower energy costs, but that will help reduce the carbon footprint in these communities, which will in turn enhance air quality for the city.”
Since 2018, ComEd has partnered with the Chicago Bungalow Association (CBA) to provide income-eligible owners of bungalows and vintage homes with free weatherization services, including air sealing, insulation, HVAC tune-ups, and health and safety measures.
“There’s a saying that the greenest home is a home that’s already built and in this case many of our members are third-generation owners living in their family’s bungalow,” said Mary Ellen Guest, executive director of the Chicago Bungalow Association, “In this situation bungalows, like almost any other vintage home, can be less efficient due to structure and build – with the right supports they can be made more energy efficient, helping homeowners lower bills and ultimately stay in the home.”
As a result of ComEd’s collaboration with the CBA, more and more bungalow owners are participating in the program resulting in a major environmental impact: to date, the program has helped save more than 25,000-megawatt hours of energy use. This impact equates to the following environmental benefits:
- 11,741.3 acres of trees planted
- 2,093 cars removed from the road
- 2,873.6 homes powered for one year
By helping bungalow and vintage homeowners lower their energy use, the program can help to keep historic homes within families, with many bungalows passed down in Black and brown families, as well as those with immigrant roots in Chicago.
Carlos Torres, a bungalow owner in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, has noticed the difference in his electric and natural gas bill since he took part in the program almost five years ago.
“I had been interested in the program for a while, I knew ComEd did things for the community, but I didn’t know they also helped with your home. There were no hassles when applying and having the energy efficiency service provider come over to do the work,” said Carlos. “They did a great job explaining the areas where the air was escaping, I have noticed the difference in my home, and my gas and electric bills have gone down. Since then, my niece, nephew, and a few neighbors have also participated in the program and noticed a difference.”
How to participate
Owners of bungalows and other vintage homes (built at least 30 years ago) can apply for the program through the CBA. To be deemed eligible, an applicant’s household income must be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI); an energy efficiency service provider will conduct a home visit to determine that the home is in proper condition to receive upgrades.
In-home retrofit work is completed in just one day and includes the installation of energy-saving equipment such as LEDs, low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, pipe insulation and programmable thermostats. The full retrofit offering provides attic and sidewall insulation, as well as furnace cleaning and tuning. Customers can schedule appointments any day Monday through Saturday.
Seventy-eight-year-old Jennifer Detwyler, a bungalow owner in Calumet Heights, had never seen the inside of her attic since purchasing her home in 2010. However, a visit from the energy efficiency service provider discovered that Jennifer’s attic was not insulated, which provided a key exit for heat and A/C leakage. While the team worked on making the energy efficiency upgrades inside her home, including insulating the attic, Jennifer enjoyed a nice sunny day in her backyard.
“The whole process was easy and comfortable. The service provider took time to explain everything to me; they were respectful, professional, and caring,” said Jennifer. “To be comfortably retired at home and be able to invite my grandkids over without having to worry it’s going to cost too much to have lights on or adjust the temperature of the house is truly a blessing.”
To learn about this and other offerings from the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program that can save you money and energy, visit ComEd.com/WaysToSave.
“The best part about ComEd’s EE program is that it affords home upgrades at no cost to the owner, and with additional funding available, we hope that more customers in Chicago and across the region will take us up on this program,” said Melissa.