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Stay Warm and Cut Your Energy Costs

With changing seasons and colder weather on the way, AARP Nebraska wants members to know that more residents are eligible for the state’s free winter home weatherization services, thanks to $41.6 million in federal economic stimulus funds.

The extra funding means that the maximum assistance per household has jumped from $2,500 to $6,500. Household income guidelines are also higher. You may qualify for help weatherizing your home if your annual income is at or below $21,660 for one person; $29,140 for a couple; $36,620 for three people; or $44,100 for a family of four.

Nebraskans can apply now or at any time year round for the extra help through 2010. Services are provided at the local level primarily by community action agencies, which determine eligibility and conduct a home energy audit to assess what energy-saving measures are needed. Low- and moderate-income renters, as well as homeowners, are eligible for weatherization assistance.

“Older residents are among the high priority groups that we serve under this program. We concentrate first on making sure each house has enough wall and attic insulation and that the furnace and water heater are working safely,” said Pete Davis, director of weatherization and state energy programs for the Nebraska Energy Office. “On average, people can expect to reduce heat loss by about 25 percent after weatherization.”

For more information about the program and how to apply, visit www.neo.ne.gov or call (402) 471-2867.

While extra help is now available to more Nebraskans, not everyone is aware that they can tap into these resources. AARP State President Sunny Andrews encourages members to lend a helping hand to those in need. The high cost of energy could make this a tough winter, especially for older adults who may be on fixed incomes or living alone, he said.

“The good news is that there is a simple way people can help others in the community save money on their utility bills. AARP’s Operation Energy Save was created for individuals and community groups to help friends, family, and neighbors conserve energy by sharing a checklist of tips that have been proven to reduce energy costs,” Andrews said. “And all of us can help spread the word to connect people on limited incomes with the free services they need to weatherize their homes this winter.”

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