First the bad news: The Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released state fact sheets that indicate Illinois is one of the biggest household energy users in the country. The 2009 data, the latest available, show that the Land of Lincoln’s home energy usage was 44 percent above the national average. Illinois families spend more than $2,000 a year on energy, the EIA estimates—and that also is above the national average.
On top of that, federal energy experts predict Midwest natural gas bills could jump by 13 percent, compared with last winter.
Now the good news: Never before have Illinois consumers been offered such a comprehensive collection of utility programs designed to save customers both energy and money. They include:
- low-cost light bulbs at stores sold across Illinois;
- rebates of up to $1,000 on energy efficiency products;
- appliance recycling programs (in which the utility hauls your old, working, second refrigerator away—and then pays you $35, for ComEd customers, or $50, for Ameren customers);
- discounted home energy audits—$49 for Ameren customers, $99 for Nicor Gas customers (such a service normally runs closer to $500).
As we head into another expensive winter heating season, CUB has released a guide to help Illinois consumers connect to these programs.