CUB Help Center
Warning: High Energy Prices
Energy prices will spike in Illinois this summer. If you are struggling, please…
- Contact your utility to learn about payment plans and assistance. Read about new utility protections here.
- See if you qualify for LIHEAP assistance before the May 31 deadline. Call the LIHEAP hotline at 1-877-411-9276 or contact your Local Administering Agency or Community Action Agency (find out which agency serves you at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website).
- If you have additional questions, call CUB at 1-800-669-5556 or file an online complaint.
Energy prices and why they’re so high
Energy prices are dramatically high across the globe, due to a number of factors, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, increased demand after the pandemic and extreme weather. Natural gas prices have been elevated since last winter, and an extended period of high gas prices often leads to skyrocketing electricity prices.
June 1 electricity supply prices:
Ameren Illinois – We are confirming the final summer price, but it reportedly will be about double last summer’s price. Ameren says customers could pay up to $48 a month more for electricity this next year. (Read our Q&A on the June 1 price spike.)
ComEd – We are confirming the final summer price, but it reportedly will be about 50 percent higher than last summer’s price. (Note: The ComEd price increase is negated by a monthly credit made possible by the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act, or CEJA. Read more about the CEJA credit.)
May 2022 gas supply prices (these prices change monthly):
Ameren Illinois – 70.844¢ per therm (up about 8% from May 2021)
Consumers Gas – 97.484¢ per therm (up about 147.6% from last May)
Illinois Gas – 98.49¢ per therm (up about 213.2% from last May)
Liberty Utilities – $1.4279 per therm (up about 97.8% from last May)
MidAmerican Energy – 93.99¢ per therm (up about 39.9% from last May)
Mt. Carmel – 50.16¢ per therm (up about 129.8% from last May)
Nicor Gas – $1.11 per therm (up about 109% from from May 2021)
Peoples Gas – 99.24¢ per therm (up about 86% from May 2021)
North Shore Gas – $1.0233 per therm (up about 132.2% from last May)
- There is assistance available for qualifying families through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, but there is a May 31 deadline. See if you qualify now!
- Call the LIHEAP hotline at 1-877-411-9276 or contact your Local Administering Agency or Community Action Agency (find out which agency serves you at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website) before the May 31 deadline.
- More information on LIHEAP, administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. (Read CUB’s fact sheet on the program.)
- Ameren Payment Assistance: Ameren Illinois offers several forms of financial assistance, including short-term, one-time payment extensions and fixed monthly payment agreements to settle past balances. (For example, Warm Neighbors Cool Friends provides year-round energy bill payment assistance and home weatherization. Eligible households can receive up to $350 during the heating season and $200 during the cooling season.)
- ComEd Payment Assistance: ComEd’s programs provide financial assistance on electric bills for qualified customers.
- Share the Warmth (Peoples Gas): Share the Warmth provides heating grants to limited and fixed-income households. Eligible customers can receive grants of up to $200 on their bills.
- Share the Warmth (North Shore Gas): Share the Warmth provides heating grants to limited and fixed-income households. Eligible customers can receive grants of up to $200 on their bills.
- Nicor Gas Sharing Program: One-time annual grants are given, with no requirement to be paid back, to qualified residential customers who meet the required income guidelines. The Nicor Gas Sharing Program is administered by the Salvation Army and funded through direct contributions from Nicor Gas’ customers and employees.
- Ameren Payment Assistance: Ameren Illinois offers several forms of financial assistance, including short-term, one-time payment extensions and fixed monthly payment agreements to settle past balances. (For example, under Warm Neighbors Cool Friends eligible households can receive up to $350 during the heating season and $200 during the cooling season.)
- FindHelp.org can help you locate a wide range of assistance programs based on your Zip Code.
- 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 they have assistance programs for residents. Visit Keep Warm Illinois and Keep Cool Illinois for state-level utility bill resources.
- Check with religious institutions and ask family and friends if they know of organizations providing assistance.
- Warming and cooling centers are available in state facilities across Illinois. These facilities are safe places to go to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The centers’ hours vary by location and are limited to each facility’s regular business hours. Find a warming center or a cooling center.
Note: CUB does not offer financial assistance and does not have an affiliation with or oversight of any of the above-mentioned programs. Please contact those programs directly.
If you receive a disconnection notice, call the company immediately to discuss your options. If you cannot afford your bills, you could be eligible for financial assistance. You may need to enter into a deferred payment arrangement, and in certain circumstances, you may be able to use a medical certificate to postpone disconnection. Do everything you can to prevent disconnection. If you are shut off, you lose all of the rights and protections that exist for active customers.
It’s a myth that the utility can never disconnect your heat in the winter or your electricity in the summer. State regulations do limit disconnections for nonpayment, but the details are complex.
Utilities are offering some new protections to help people state connected. Before you read the rules below, check out CUB’s WatchBlog.
Also, Residential accounts deemed to be in compliance with state regulations are safe from disconnection:
- When the temperature is below 32 degrees or expected to fall below 32 degrees within the next 24-hour period, and disconnection would affect your heat.
- When the temperature is above 95 degrees or expected to rise above 95 degrees within the next 24-hour period (electricity only).
- On any day preceding a weekend or holiday when temperatures are expected to meet the above criteria.
- If it’s between December 1 and March 31 AND if the utility accepted LIHEAP funds on the account after September 1 of that heating season.
- If it’s between December 1 and March 31 and you have an electric heat account (meaning your primary source of heat is electricity).
- If it’s between December 1 and March 31 and you are a service member who has just been assigned to duty.
During high-priced times, consumers wonder if they should switch to an alternative supplier. When energy prices are up, alternative gas and electricity suppliers are often impacted by the same market conditions, so be careful about getting lured into bad deals. A company may offer a low introductory rate that will skyrocket after a short period. (Ask how long a rate lasts, and what the new rate will be.) Also, be wary of add-on fees that can raise the cost of the plan. Finally, be careful of multi-year deals. The utility’s price will eventually come down so you don’t want to get locked into a long-term deal that goes sour a year or two into it.
You can always check to see if your community has negotiated a “municipal aggregation” deal. Municipal aggregation is when community leaders negotiate with an alternative supplier for the purpose of securing a reasonable electricity price. Savings aren’t guaranteed, but your community may have secured a lower supply rate than your utility. Just make sure to find out when the offer expires.
Quick CUB Resources
- CUB’s Clean Energy page is filled with efficiency tips and info about utility efficiency programs.
- CUB’s free Virtual Utility Bill Consultation (This service is also available in Spanish.)
- Making Sense of Your Gas Bill
- CUB’s Guide to Going Green
- CUB’s Guide to Home Energy Savings and watch our Home Energy Savings Webinar
- Gas and Electric Guide: A Handbook for Gas and Electric Customers in Illinois
See the CUB Resources Section for more information.
- Read our tips on getting your home ready for summer and our summer efficiency tips. Also, read our winter tips and year-round efficiency tips.
- The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at about 78 degrees in summer (a bit higher when you’re asleep) and about 68 degrees in winter (a bit lower when you’re asleep). Be smart about it. Never set the thermostat at a temperature that threatens your health.
- Weatherize doors and windows to prevent any heating and cooling loss to drafty areas. Energy Star has a great guide for getting started and many Illinois utilities offer rebates for sealing and insulation (see the CUB Clean Energy page). Don’t forget to check attics and crawlspaces as well.
- Add a programmable thermostat, which can save you money by adjusting the temperature settings while you’re out of the house. Some utility companies (Nicor, Peoples Gas and ComEd, for example) offer a free home energy assessment that can install a new programmable thermostat at no cost, potentially saving you up to $180 a year.
- Maintain your HVAC system. Change filters regularly and get a system performance checkup from an HVAC technician to see where your system may be costing you more money than necessary. An energy-efficient model can save 20-40% of your energy costs.
- Special centers are available in state facilities across Illinois to help consumers stay safe in the summer or winter. Warming and cooling center hours vary by location and are limited to each facility’s regular business hours. Find a Warming Center here and a cooling center here.
- Don’t keep your home too hot or too cold to save money. Efficiency is about safety and comfort. (Don’t use your oven to heat your home. If you use a space heater, place it on a hard, level surface. Don’t use an extension cord, keep it at least three feet away from flammable objects such as the couch or curtains, and don’t leave it on overnight.)
- ComEd Energy Efficiency Programs
- Ameren Illinois Efficiency Programs
- Nicor Gas Efficiency Programs
- North Shore Gas Efficiency Programs
- Peoples Gas Efficiency Programs
- Use CUB’s toll-free Consumer Hotline and online complaint system: If you have a complaint or question about your utility service, please do not hesitate to call CUB, 1-800-669-5556, to talk to an expert 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or to file a complaint online.
- Sign up for a free bill analysis, and CUB’s team of consumer advocates will conduct a free review of your gas, electric and telecom bills to find ways for you to save! A CUB representative will contact you within 5 business days to set up a consultation. This service is also available in Spanish. (Please read more about this CUB service.)
- Attend one of CUB’s virtual events: Past webinars include home energy savings, Illinois’ new solar programs and reducing robocalls and cutting your cable bill.
- Have CUB hold a virtual event: We will hold special virtual events for community groups. These presentations can cover a number of utility-related topics, such as reducing your utility costs, Illinois’ solar options and how to sign up for energy efficiency programs. If your community group is interested in such a program, please email Kate Shonk, CUB’s outreach coordinator.
1) Urge Springfield to end the “QIP” surcharge that helps utilities rapidly increase gas bills. (We shouldn’t be an ATM for big utilities!)