State opens warming centers, offers tips

CHICAGO—As part of his Keep Warm Illinois campaign, Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced he will make 122 state facilities available as Warming Centers.

The Warming Centers will provide Illinoisans a place to stay warm and comfortable if they turn down their thermostats during the day to lower their heating bills.

Blagojevich also sent a letter to all 1,116 mayors in the Illinois Municipal League asking them to assist in this important effort by identifying suitable buildings that can serve as additional warming centers in their communities.

“With heating costs expected to climb this winter, Illinois residents—especially our seniors and low-income families—will be hit hard in the pocketbook,” Blagojevich said. “That’s why we’re giving people a safe place to go, so they can turn down their thermostats at home during the day to help conserve energy and lower their heating bills. I thank the Illinois Municipal League for joining me in this important effort.”

Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Ken Alderson added: “With potential high heating costs over the coming heating season, local officials and community organizations should be prepared to assist those in need.”

In his letter to the Municipal League members, Blagojevich urged mayors to reach out to local service agencies, community centers, churches, schools, libraries, hospitals and other organizations to ask that their facilities be made available to local residents this winter.

“While we do not know how many people will need warming centers, we must be prepared so that no one risks their health and safety while trying to cut back on heating costs this winter,” Blagojevich said in the letter.

As part of the governor’s Keep Warm Illinois campaign, the Department of Human Services (DHS) will open its 116 local offices statewide to the public, and the Illinois Tollway will make the six Tollway oases in northern Illinois available as warming centers. State officials are encouraging Illinoisans to use these warming centers to help lower their heating bills. Homeowners can save approximately 3 percent on their energy costs for every degree the thermostat is lowered, although they should be no lower than 55 degrees.

Last month, Blagojevich launched the Keep Warm Illinois campaign, a multi-agency, comprehensive effort to help families reduce their heating bills by conserving energy and weatherizing their homes, and offering warming centers throughout the state. The list of warming centers locations is available at the Keep Warm Illinois Web site at, or through the Keep Warm Illinois hotline (1-877-411-WARM).

Warming centers will be located at DHS facilities and will be open during normal business hours, Monday through Friday.

“The warming centers will be an excellent place for Illinois families to stay safe and warm this winter,” said DHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. “People who want to lower their thermostats during the day in order to save costs on their utilities are encouraged to take advantage of the warming centers.”

The Keep Warm Illinois Web site also offers various no-cost and low-cost energy saving tips, a Web-based tool to conduct a home energy audit, links to energy assistance programs and other resources.

From the Dec. 21-27, 2005, issue

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