Winters in Maine can be a challenge for anyone. The roads get icy, the snow falls literally “snow on snow” (remembering a popular holiday song) and our temperatures plummet to sub-zero readings.
Our Northernmost residents can be particularly affected by winter’s bite. It is disturbing that many Mainers will face additional challenges staying warm as we head into the colder months.
According to a recent AARP report, since the mid-1990’s, home heating costs have outpaced the ability of many low-income consumers to adequately heat their homes. Of particular concern is that current projections indicate that heat expenses will increase the most this year for households using fuel oil. Here in Maine, approximately 3 out of 4 residents use fuel oil to heat their homes.
New England in general has the highest heating costs in the nation because heating oil is the primary heating fuel used. For New England residents age 65 and older, the average winter cost in 2010-11 was $3,058. Projections indicate that for 2011-12, this will jump almost 10 percent.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides funding across America, helping low-income households pay their utility bills. Sadly, the House Appropriations Committee has already proposed a huge cut to LIHEAP funding that will no doubt affect many Mainers in the coming months. In light of this proposal, it is AARP’s sincere hope that Governor LePage will consider directing part of the state budget towards helping low-income Mainers as they struggle to stay warm.
Here are some resources in Maine for more information on energy assistance programs and tips on how to save on heating costs this winter season: