CHICAGO (WLS) -- Energy costs and food prices can be overwhelming right now as inflation continues to drive them up.
Energy prices have risen more than 40% in the last year, and food costs are up more than 10%, some of the largest price increases in 40 years according to the Consumer Price Index. It's especially difficult for people on a fixed income.
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Loretta Line, who is on a fixed income, has been dipping into her savings to afford it.
"If I keep taking out of it I'm not going to be able to survive much longer,' she said.
Line closes her blinds during the day to keep cool in her West Ridge neighborhood condo, and doesn't run the air conditioner. She pays $30 a more a month on electric. Her condo association dues cover her gas, however it's estimated that gas bills will put the association $27,000 over budget by the end of the year and raise dues. That plus the rising cost of groceries has residents on edge.
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"In the past we enjoyed being able to go to local farmers markets, go to places where we can get organic food and I'm not doing that anymore. I'm going to places where I can get discounted vegetables," Line said.
Shopping around for different items can help save, along with buying store or generic brands. You should also stick to a list and join grocery store loyalty programs for additional savings.
You can also take steps to save on your energy bills.
"Energy efficiency can help people save this summer," said Jim Chilsen with the Citizens Utility Board. "Number one, walk to your thermostat, keep it at 76 to 78 degrees when you're awake. When you're asleep or away from home, bump it up a few degrees, and weatherize your doors and windows."
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There is also help on the way.
"The good news is that there is some relief thanks to the climate and Equitable Jobs Act," Chilsen said. "There are two refunds coming to consumers. One is coming to consumers right now this summer."
Both refunds will appear on your ComEd bill. The one coming now is an average of $18 credit through May. The other is an average of $3 credit beginning in 2023. But that may not be enough for some.
"We've seen a 20% increase in consumers calling CUB and most of them are saying what the heck is wrong with my utility bill," Chilsen said.
The Citizen's Utility Board also said you should keep your lights and televisions off as much as possible to save money, and consider skipping on the stove and oven and instead use the microwave or an outdoor grill to cook meals.
You can find more tips and info at CUBHelpCenter.com and CitizensUtilityBoard.org.