ILLINOIS (WEHT) – The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is offering a few tips to help homeowners prepare for freezing temperatures.

Officials with the ICC offer the following tips:

  • Install smart thermostats that automatically adjust heating and cooling temperature settings.
  • Check with the utility company about enrolling in time-based electricity rates programs to reduce energy usage during peak hours or to learn about energy efficiency services they may offer.
  • Set the thermostat at 68 degrees while awake and home, lower at night and when away.
  • Water heating accounts for 14 to 18% of homeowner’s utility bill. Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees to save money.
  • Cover the inside of drafty windows with heavy plastic and seal tightly to the frame to avoid air infiltration. Check exterior door and window frames for leaks, use caulk or weather stripping to seal. Use insulated curtains, shades, or other energy-efficient window treatments.
  • Schedule a maintenance service call for the heating system. Be sure to change filters on furnace and heat pumps at least once a month. For wood and pellet-burning heaters, clean the flue vent regularly, and clean the interior of appliances with a wire brush.
  • If there’s an older water heater tank, consider adding an insulated jacket or blanket. Insulating a water tank can save between 7 to 16% in water heating costs.
  • On sunny days, allow natural light to filter in south-facing windows to help warm your home. Reverse the direction of ceiling fan blades to circulate warm air.
  • If there’s a fireplace, keep the damper closed unless a fire is burning. If using the fireplace, close off the room, and if possible, open a nearby window slightly, and lower your thermostat setting between 50-55 degrees.
  • Lower holiday decorating costs by using LED holiday light strings.

To learn more about ways to save, visit the U.S. Department of Energy website. If an Illinoisan is struggling to afford their utility bill, the application window for enrolling in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is now open until May 31, 2023, or until funding is exhausted.