ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) – The current cold weather means Illinois residents will pay a lot more to heat their homes this winter, but there is help out there.
People across the state line are seeing their electric bills surge as both Nicor and ComEd have admitted their bills are up.
However, a Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or “LIHEAP” is available.
“There’s no distinction between how cold it gets and how much something costs, right? They don’t care who you are. The weather is what it is, the prices are what they are,” said Owen Carter, deputy program director for the City of Rockford.
Carter knows there are people who need help with their utilities. He hopes that the weekly information sessions on “LIHEAP” will point them in the right direction.
“After a certain date or temperature, they can’t separate you,” Carter said. “The problem is, what about low-income families who are already separated?”
The program gives Illinois residents a credit toward their utility bills. This credit can help with overdue amounts or be used for future bills.
“People seeing these big bills can get discouraged, they can get really stressed,” said Jim Chilsen, communications director for the Citizens Utility Board. “People should know that energy efficiency is about taking safe steps to reduce your utility bills and still stay safe and warm.”
Chilsen said residents should “weather” their doors and windows to keep their bill down. They should keep their thermostat at 68 degrees when they’re home, but they can turn it down to 10 degrees when they’re walking or sleeping. However, they should never drop below 55 degrees.
Carter said no one should suffer to decide whether to put food on the table or heat their home.
“So we want to work within our means and use the funds received to help as many people as possible to restore or keep heating their homes during the winter months,” he said.
Information sessions are held every Wednesday through the end of March for those in Boone and Winnebago counties. Below are details of upcoming venues and eligibility:
The LIHEAP team will be at the following locations from 9am to 1pm
February 1 – Rockford Today Network 4437 E. State St.
February 8 – Washington Park Community Center 3617 Delaware St.
February 15 – Northwest Community Center 1325 N. Johnston Ave.
February 22 – St. Bernadette Catholic Church 2400 Bell Ave.
March 1 – Washington Park Community Center 3617 Delaware St.
March 8 – Rockford Today Network 4437 E. State St.
March 15 – Providence Baptist Church – 2209 Clifton Ave.
March 22 – St. Bernadette Catholic Church 2400 Bell Ave.
March 29 – Providence Baptist Church – 2209 Clifton Ave.
Be sure to bring the following documents with you:
Photo ID (driver’s license, state-issued ID, work or school ID, or FOID card)
Proof of 30-day GROSS income (for ALL household members 18+, this includes TANF, child support, SSI or SSD, SSDI, etc.). If someone in the household over the age of 18 is not claiming income, they must provide proof of public benefits (e.g. SNAP, proof of public housing, or a letter from someone who supports you financially).
Current (latest) heating and electricity bills (Need front and back and if utilities are included in your rent bring a copy of your rental agreement)
Social security cards for all household members (must be originals, no copies. Birth certificates are accepted for children under 6 months).