CUB Help Center

Warning: High Energy Prices

Energy prices and why they’re so high

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.

June-September electricity supply prices:
Ameren Illinois – 10.628 cents per kWh (120% increase from last June) Read our Q&A.
ComEd – 11.041 cents per kWh (63% increase from last June) Read how this spike is offset by a monthly credit made possible by the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA).

September gas supply prices (change monthly):
Ameren Illinois – 86.23¢ per therm (up 30% from September 2021)
Consumers Gas –  $1.06 per therm (up 46% from September 2021)
Illinois Gas – 87.36¢ per therm (up 118% from September 2021)
Liberty Utilities –$1.15 per therm (up 149% from September 2021)
MidAmerican Energy – $1.08  per therm (up 31% from September 2021)
Mt. Carmel – 88.77¢ per therm (up 48% from September 2021)
Nicor Gas – $1.24 per therm (up 134% from September 2021)
North Shore Gas – 92.65¢ per therm (up 60% from September 2021)
Peoples Gas – $1.05 per therm (up 58% from September 2021)

Note: Q&A on high gas prices and historical gas prices.

Take Action

1) Urge Washington to fight high energy prices.  

2) Sign our petitions against Ameren’s $83 million and ComEd’s $199 million electric delivery rate-hike proposals.

3) Urge Springfield to end the “QIP” surcharge that helps utilities rapidly increase gas bills. (We shouldn’t be an ATM for big utilities!)

4) Volunteer at CUB. 

5) If you would like, you can donate to the cause of lower utility bills, consumer protections and clean energy.

Financial Resources

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has opened up its application process. Please read CUB’s WatchBlog. 

Electricity

  • 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.

Natural Gas

  • 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.)

Other sources

  • 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.

Disconnection Rights

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.

Alternative Suppliers

Beware of alternative gas and electricity suppliers taking advantage of the headlines about high prices to lure you into a bad deal.

  • The utility is likely your best bet.
  • Alternative gas and electricity suppliers are often impacted by the same market conditions that are causing utility supply prices to be high.
  • If you shop, be wary of:
    • A low introductory rate that will skyrocket after a short period. (Ask how long a rate lasts, and what the new rate will be.)
    • Add-on fees that raise the cost of the plan. (Scan the fine print.)
    • Multi-year deals. The utility’s price will eventually come down be careful about getting locked into a long-term deal that goes sour a year or two into it.
  • With electricity supply, check if your community has negotiated a “municipal aggregation” deal. Municipal aggregation is when community leaders negotiate with an alternative supplier to secure 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.
  • Read our fact sheets on energy choice for Nicor Gas customers, North Shore/Peoples Gas customers, ComEd customers and Ameren customers.

Efficiency/Safety Tips

General Tips

  • Get your home ready for winter and practice these efficiency tips.  (Also, read our year-round efficiency tips.
  • Get tips on preparing your home for a power outage, and what to do during an outage.
  • Read our safety tips. Don’t keep your home too hot or too cold to save money. Efficiency is about safety and comfort. (In the winter, 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.)
  • The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat at about 76-78 degrees in summer (a bit higher when you’re asleep or away) and about 68 degrees in winter (a bit lower when you’re asleep or away). 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. Check attics and crawlspaces to see if you need to make insulation improvements.  
  • Maintain your HVAC system. Clean or change filters regularly (every 1-2 months during the cooling season) 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. If you have central air, schedule your yearly check up with the HVAC technician. (Here’s an AC maintenance guide from the Department of Energy.)
  • Use a programmable or smart thermostat. 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.
  • Special centers are available in state facilities across Illinois to help consumers stay safe in the summer or winter. Find warming and cooling center near you. Many of those are open during business hours, although Tollway Oasis locations are open 24 hours a day. 

Quick CUB Resources

See the CUB Services section for more information.

CUB Resources

  • 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 savingsIllinois’ 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.

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