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Hallelujah! Feds expect lower heating bills this winter

By Samantha Vercellino

With federal experts predicting natural gas, electricity and propane costs to fall this winter due to above-average temperatures, Midwesterners can sleep a bit easier knowing another polar vortex blast doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

Warmer winter weather and lower fuel consumption means Midwesterners will pay less to heat their homes with gas, the heating fuel of choice for more than 80 percent of Illinois homes. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts those costs to fall 7.9 percent across the Midwest compared with last winter.

Midwestern homes heating primarily with electricity and propane also will pay less. The EIA predicts total costs to drop 3.2 percent for homes that heat with electricity and 33.8 percent for homes that use propane.

Follow CUB’s cold-weather tips to ensure you save even more this winter:

  • Embrace the sun. During the day, open your curtains and let the sun shine through. Sunlight naturally heats your home while giving your heating system a break. When night falls, close the curtains and add blinds to keep the indoor temperature up.
  • Seal air leaks. Search the aisles of your hardware stores for weather stripping, caulk, foam gaskets or plastic sheeting to seal air leaks around windows or doors. (If you can’t get to the hardware store on a cold night, use a temporary fix: Roll up a towel underneath the door to keep the heat in.) Don’t ignore even small leaks since they can contribute to one-third of your heating costs.
  • Switch to a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to set back your temperature and slash your heating bills by about $100 or more each year. Every degree you lower your thermostat can save you up to two percent on your energy bills. However, the Illinois Department of Public Health advises not to drop your temperature below 66 degrees.
  • Maintenance matters. Schedule routine maintenance for your heating system and remember to check your filters at least once a month. Overlooking such small details can reduce your unit’s heating efficiency about 5 percent each year.
  • Join CUB Energy Saver. Visit CUB’s free online service at, CUBEnergySaver.com, to learn how to build a money-saving plan that’s created solely for your home and financial means. The service tracks actual savings and shows you how to cut your utility bills.