More state residents will qualify for help with paying their heating bills this winter after an increase in income limits for an assistance program. Residents age 65 and older, the disabled and households with young children are priority applicants for LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) funds if they meet eligibility requirements, which are a yearly income of $21,660 or less for an individual and $29,140 or less for a couple.
The program helps with heating and cooling costs as well as such services as home weatherization. It assisted 61,675 Mississippi households with heating bills in 2008.
AARP advocates for LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program), which is a federal program that provides energy assistance to elderly and low-income consumers. LIHEAP helps pay the current month’s electric or gas bills. It also covers the cost of air conditioners and fans. In the winter, LIHEAP covers the cost of heaters.
A 2008 AARP survey of people age 45 and over found that nearly 75 percent reported a rise in their home heating and cooling costs over the last year. Due to these increases in home energy costs, the survey found that many Americans are taking measures to protect their pocketbooks. The survey found:
• 81 percent are turning the thermostat up or down.
• Nearly three quarters (73%) are trying to use less energy in the home.
• 63 percent are modifying their homes to be more energy efficient.
• Nearly half (46%) are heating/cooling only certain parts of their homes.
• More than half (57%) anticipate spending less during the holiday season.
• 29 percent are spending less on back-to-school shopping.
To apply for help, call the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Community Services at 601-359-4768 or toll free at 1-800-421-0762.