If you’re struggling to pay your utility bills during this expensive winter, you’re not alone. CUB has some guidance on what steps to take.
1) Call Your Utility.
As the utility company is the entity issuing the bill and the only entity with access to your account, your first call—no matter the issue—should always be to your utility. Find out what assistance is available, ask if you can enter into a payment plan that gives you more time to pay off your debt and find out what energy efficiency programs are available. Call your utility companies at these numbers:
- Ameren Illinois – 1-800-755-5000
- Aqua Illinois – 1-877-987-2782
- ComEd – 1-800-334-7661
- Illinois American Water – 1-800-422-2782
- Nicor Gas – 1-888-642-6748
- North Shore Gas – 1-866-556-6004
- Peoples Gas – 1-866-556-6001
- Utilities Inc. – 1-800-831-2359
Additionally, if you are in need of financial assistance, call LIHEAP, 1-877-411-9276 (WARM). The state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Help Illinois Families websites also are good resources.
CUBHelpCenter.com has a list of financial resources to explore. Also, contact charities, such as the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and the Heartland Alliance, to see if they offer assistance for utility bills. Contact your municipality to see if it has assistance programs for residents, and also check with religious institutions. Ask family and friends if they know of organizations providing assistance.
2) Practice energy efficiency.
Simple actions at home could help control costs:
- Weather-strip doors, caulk windows and install storm windows if you have them. A door
guard or sweep can help fill the gap at the bottom of your front and back doors. You can find most of
these items at local hardware stores.
- In cold weather, set your thermostat to 68°F when you’re at home and awake. When
you’re asleep or away, turn your thermostat down 7° to 10°F. Never let your thermostat drop below 55
degrees, as you could freeze your water pipes.
- Close blinds and curtains or cover your windows with blankets as an extra layer of protection against icy night winds, but open them during the day so sunlight can help heat your home.
3) Take action.
While high gas prices have helped lead to skyrocketing heating bills this winter, so has overly aggressive utility spending. Please join the campaign to rein in the spending of the big utilities in Illinois.
For more information, please visit CUBHelpCenter.com. Also, if you have a question or complaint about your utility service, and you’ve already tried to resolve any problem with your utility company, contact CUB, at 1-800-669-5556, or through its online complaint form: https://www.citizensutilityboard.org/complaint-form/