Residential Energy Efficiency & Assistance

When working to create a regional climate plan, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus noticed that residential buildings were a significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  The Caucus thought that it was time to look at the residential sector and assist with the energy burden that some households face, which has been made worse during the pandemic.  Energy burden is the percentage of household income spent on energy costs.  Home energy costs that are under 6% of gross household income are considered "affordable" by researchers.  Households that are paying more than 6% of their income on energy costs face a "high energy burden" and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).  Low-income families in Illinois face a severe energy burden because they spend an average of 13% of their income on energy costs. A household that is energy burdened may need to decide whether to pay for their utility bills or buy medicine and other necessities, which can result in serious consequences. 

In addition to reducing GHG emissions and alleviating the energy burden for households, the project is aligned with the Greenest Region Compact (GRC) goal to "engage the community in clean energy practices" and the following two GRC Objectives:

  • E30: Partner with utilities to promote energy efficiency programs to the community
  • E33: Collaborate to educate the community about clean energy options by providing information and communication materials on various programs, the Caucus aims to:
    • spread awareness about energy efficiency, emergency assistance programs, and renewable energy
    • increase the region's energy literacy
    • help residents, especially low-income residents and older adults, who may have a higher energy burden
  1. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
  2. Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP)
  3. Helping Hand Program
  4. Free Home Energy Assessments
  5. ComEd Hourly Pricing
  6. ComEd Smart Thermostat Rebates in 2021
  7. Nicor Equipment Rebates in 2021
  8. Nicor Rebates for Air Sealing and Insulation in 2021
  9. Nicor Free Water-Saving & Weatherization Kits

LIHEAP is an income-based annual block grant that assists residents in paying for winter energy bills. If eligible, a payment will be sent directly to the utility on behalf of a household. If a household's combined gross income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level for the 30 days prior to the application, the household may be eligible for assistance. (Please see the below table.) For renters, if heat and/or electric is included in rent, then the rent must be greater than 30% of a resident's income in order for the resident to be eligible. The application period is through May 31, 2021, or until funds are exhausted, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).  

Low income graph

To apply for income-eligible assistance, call the Community Action Partnership of Lake County at 847-249-4330 to schedule a phone call appointment.

DCEO administers the LIHEAP program.  Residents can apply for LIHEAP by contacting their local community action agency (CAA) or administering agency, based on their county.  Contacting the CAA directly is the fastest method.  Another way to apply is by filling out a pre-application at and waiting for a call back from a local agency, but this could take anywhere from days to weeks. If a resident is considering LIHEAP, it is recommended to apply because being eligible for LIHEAP can be an indication that an individual is eligible for other income-qualified programs.  Income-eligible undocumented workers may also apply for LIHEAP.