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Four ways to save money this summer

DeKALB – The less money you spend on electrical appliances and gas as summer heats up, the more you’ll have to spend enjoying the weather.

That’s what Patrick Deignan, spokesman for the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois, figures. Deignan and a few DeKalb County leaders shared ideas for saving a few dollars this summer.

1) Change the light bulbs. One simple way people can cut costs this summer is by turning off lights they are not using at home. They can also switch from incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. About 90 percent of the energy emitted by incandescent bulbs is heat.

“Not many people realize incandescent bulbs create a lot of heat, which can make air conditioning work harder,” Deignan said.

2) Manage the cool air. It also doesn’t make sense for people to keep their homes cool when they’re not home, Deignan said. People can save $200 a year with a programmable thermostat that regulates their home’s temperature on a preset schedule.

Window units are not as energy efficient as central air-conditioning units, but a central air-conditioning unit costs about $2,300 more than the average window unit, which typically costs $150, said Gregory Freeman, owner of All-Star Heating & Air Conditioning in DeKalb.

The best way to cut down on the cost of using a central air-conditioning unit is consistently changing air filters every 30 to 45 days, Freeman said. Once a year, owners should hire a professional to fully check and clean their units, he said. The average cost of this service is $70, he said.

“Maintenance is the key,” Freeman said. “Just like your health or your automobile, if you maintain it, your overall cost will be less.”

To encourage people to buy central air-conditioning units, the federal government provides $150 to $300 in tax credits to owners, he said. ComEd also provides rebates that vary from $400 to $1,200 depending on the efficiency of the unit, he said.

Cheaper than air conditioning are fans, Deignan said. If a fan is installed in the ceiling, he said to make sure it’s running counter-clockwise so the breeze is traveling downward. Ceiling fans should spin clockwise to pull the air upward in the winter.

3) Do chores late or early in the day. When it comes to cooking during the summer, Deignan said it is best to cook during the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are cooler. Those times are also best when using any other device that produces heat, such as laundry machines or dishwashers, as the heat they produce can burden air conditioning units.

4) Have fun close to home. Local park districts can offer inexpensive programs for the entire family.

As part of a yearlong celebration of its 90th year as a park district, Sycamore park leaders are charging only 90 cents admission to the swimming pool from noon to 4 p.m. July 9 and 90 cent daily admission to the fitness center on the ninth day of every month. In addition, the park district is hosting a free ice cream social from 1 to 3 p.m. July 14 at Wetzel Park. For more information on these program, see the Sycamore Park District website at:

At DeKalb’s Hopkins Pool, reduced rates for evening swims are offered from 5 to 7 p.m. Sundays through Fridays. The $4 rate applies to both residents and others, while a day pass is $6 for residents and $9 for nonresidents ages 5 and older. Low-income DeKalb families also may qualify for discounted pool passes. For more information, see the DeKalb Park District website at:

The DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau also has compiled a list of free events offered this summer throughout the county, including a walleye fishing contest at Shabbona Lake in Shabbona this weekend and the Waterman Summerfest and Tractor Show on July 20.

“A lot of things to do here are very economical and friendly to the family budget,” said Debbie Armstrong, executive director of the bureau.

The bureau also offers coupons online for local movie theaters, restaurants, pools and other venues. To download the coupon book, visit their website at

Free Summer Events in DeKalb County
Saturday and Sunday:  Walleye Contest Weekend, Shabbona Lake, Shabbona.
July 3 through 6: Kirkland Fourth of July celebration, Kirkland.
July 4: Fourth of July Celebration in Hopkins Park, DeKalb.
July 6 and 7: Independence celebrations Sandwich Park District, Sandwich.
July 19 through 21: The 8th Annual Let’s Dance Big Band Weekend, DeKalb.
For more information on free events, contact the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 877-335-2521.
July 20: Waterman Summerfest and Tractor Show, Waterman
July 20: Kingston Kardboard Regatta, Kingston
July 20 through 28: Kishwaukee Fest, DeKalb
July 26 through 28: Sycamore’s Turning Back Time Weekend, Sycamore
August 4: Art at Ellwood & Ice Cream Social, DeKalb
August 8: 11th Sycamore’s Steam Show & Threshing Bee, Sycamore
For more information on free events, visit the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website at

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