Worried about expensive energy bills? Here’s what you can do

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Brutal temperatures have Stateline residents turning up the thermostat, but as the heat increases so does your utility bill.

Experts say that being mindful of any drafty spots in your home and finding cost-effective ways to fix them could end up saving you a lot of money this winter.

“Definitely, when you have an extreme weather situation like this, it causes supply to be reduced and demand goes way up,” said Jim Chilsen, the communications director for Citizens Utility Board.

Jim Chilsen with the non-profit Citizens Utility Board says that recent frigid temperatures mean pipelines are pumping more natural gas in certain parts of the country than usual. This could ultimately lead to a spike in your utility bills.

“It wouldn’t be a surprise if the next few weeks or months, we see elevated prices. Because the market is reacting to that,” said Chilsen.

While an increase may be unavoidable this winter, experts say there are ways you can prevent prices from skyrocketing even higher.

“Something people don’t really think about is, during the daytime, if you let the light in, you’re actually letting in heat. Letting that natural heat in lets you save, you’re able to dial down some of those thermostats,” said Chanda Rowan, the Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program manager.

Nicor Gas offers free weatherization kits too, which includes materials to insulate windows and doors.

“The little things make a big difference in the way that you save, and we’re telling people that every day,” Rowan added.

Chilsen says that even everyday items can be used in a pinch to help improve your home’s energy efficiency.

“Block those icy winds from coming under your door. If you don’t have something from the hardware store, just roll up a towel and put it at the base of the door. Use a rug to block the base of the door. Or roll up some paper and put it there,” he added. “In extreme weather situations like this, improvise.”

If you are concerned with rising utility bills, Chilsen recommends looking into payment assistance. Several utility have programs in place to aid those who are struggling financially.

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