Time to think about heating help

It’s time to start heating our homes.

With the first snow of the year falling on Wednesday morning, it was the perfect time for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Plan (LIHEAP) program to open its application period for the 2017-2018 period.

The federally-funded program is based on income guidelines and household size. A family of four with a gross annual income of $36,900 (or less) would qualify for a grant. LIHEAP grants are distributed on a first come first served basis, and applications can be obtained at www.LIHEAPhelps.com or by calling 1-877-443-2743.

Often, when applications for LIHEAP are submitted, those applying for the grant also express an interest in receiving weatherization services for their home. Sometimes, said Warren-Forest Counties Economic Opportunities Council (EOC) Executive Director Bob Raible, those families interested in weatherization are sent the EOC’s way.

The EOC provides weatherization services to income eligible residents of Forest and Warren Counties, said Raible. For some receiving LIHEAP weatherization services are a requirement for their receiving a grant. For others, they are not. But anyone interested in making their home more efficiently heated who meets income guidelines can receive weatherization services from EOC, regardless of whether they’ve applied for a received a LIHEAP grant or not, Raible said.

The first step in receiving weatherization services from the EOC, said Raible, is having EOC staff come to the home to perform an energy audit. During the audit, he said, demographic information about all household members is taken and the home is tested for places where air is entering and exiting the home. The furnace is also tested at time, Raible said. The information is run through the state’s rubric and the EOC is told what services it can provide based on data collected, said Raible. All weatherization programs are aimed at helping the region’s most vulnerable families and individuals both cut down on energy consumption and thereby reduce utility bills.

“Every house is different,” said Raible. “And everyone lives differently,” so services offered following an energy audit depend on unique factors having to do with family variables like how many live in the home and income, as well as variables to do with the structure itself.

Anyone interested in learning more about weatherization services from the EOC can call the agency at (814) 726-2400 extension 3011, or by emailing henry@wfcaa.org.