As Bay Staters continue to cope with the current economic crisis, another financial worry looms: the cost of heating homes during the long winter season. With a little preparation, you can keep the heat in your home and money in the bank.
A few inexpensive and easy ways to stay warm inside include:
- Replace broken or cracked glass on older windows; check to see that windows close properly and window locks pull sashes together.
- Repair doors with non-working doorknobs, latches and striker plates.
- Weatherstrip windows, doors and attic accesses; caulk the frames around windows and doors from the inside using a clear, pliable caulk.
- Switch your curtains and blinds with insulated versions.
For those ready to do a little more around the house, experts also recommend:
- installing automatic thermostats,
- insulating attic and crawl spaces, and
- scheduling annual check-ups for heating systems.
AARP’s resident “Ultimate Cheapskate” Jeff Yeager believes even smaller changes can make a difference. To cut down on heating costs, he suggests:
- dressing warmly
- lowering the thermostat by just a few degrees
Help for Vulnerable Residents
Bay Staters may also qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps homeowners and renters pay for heating fuel including:
Households with gross incomes ranging between $20,800 for a single person to $77,196 for a family of 10 (at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty income level) may be eligible for LIHEAP.
The program operates between November 1 and April 30, and is administered through local non-profit agencies who pay providers directly.
In addition to providing help with home heating fuel costs, LIHEAP also offers additional resources, including:
- a free weatherization kit
- assistance with heating system repairs
- utility discounts
Residents may sign up for LIHEAP from November 3 to April 30. First-time applicants must go to the fuel assistance agency in their are to complete the paperwork. And, while households must re-apply each year, information is mailed to you after the first year.
Those who are denied assistance have the right to appeal through their local fuel assistance agency.
Visit the LIHEAP website for further details and application information.