By Kate Shonk
Sustainable Communities Liason
Facing high energy prices and the rising cost of living, many consumers want to cut down on their monthly utility bills. In Illinois, consumers have access to energy efficiency programs offered by utility companies–including ones for income-qualified households.
The programs designed for lower-income customers can vary slightly between utility companies and may not be available to those serviced by municipal or cooperative utilities. Below is a summary so you can easily connect to these money-saving programs.
Home Energy Assessments
Every investor-owned utility in Illinois offers its own version of a home energy assessment. Through this program, a consumer can sign up to have an energy advisor visit their home and conduct tests to find potential energy-wasting areas. Once the walk-through is complete, they will offer participants free or discounted energy-efficient products, and even install them.
- Ameren customers must be at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level to participate in the Income Qualified Home Energy Assessment.
- MidAmerican customers may be eligible for a HomeCheck online assessment and a free energy efficiency kit equipped with LED light bulbs, advanced power strips, a low-flow showerhead, and a bathroom faucet aerator.
- In the ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas service areas, all consumers can schedule a single or multi-family Home Energy Assessment and receive free LEDs, hot water pipe insulation, an energy-efficient showerhead, and more. If households also meet specified income guidelines, they are eligible for added energy efficiency retrofits. For example, income-eligible consumers can receive free advanced power strips and smart thermostats.
Other Programs for Income-eligible Households
- ComEd partners with food pantries to offer free LED light bulbs, weather stripping and other efficient products.
- ComEd also partners with Community Action Agencies to distribute energy-saving kits.
- Lastly, ComEd offers income-eligible instant discounts on energy-efficient products at various retailers.
- Peoples Gas and North Shore:
- In Peoples Gas and North Shore territory, Public Housing Authorities can receive assistance for energy efficiency upgrades. In addition, owners of multifamily properties that are designated as income-eligible can qualify for energy efficiency retrofits. Renters can alert their property manager to the opportunity.
- Nicor Gas
- While not specific to income-eligible residents, Nicor offers free water-saving and weatherization kits to all customers.
- Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP)
- For additional assistance with weatherization and energy efficiency, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) offers IHWAP. Households must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level to receive state funds and 200 percent of the federal poverty level to receive federal Department of Energy and Health and Human Services funds. For more information, visit DCEO’s webpage or call (217) 785-2533.
About the author: Kate Shonk started at CUB in 2022. She serves as the main contact for grassroots outreach events and works to advocate for Illinois consumers. Kate graduated from the University of Michigan in 2020 with degrees in English and Political Science. Her favorite part about working for CUB is combining her passions for community organizing and environmental policy. In her free time, she enjoys crocheting, writing, and staying active around the city.