Feb. 10, 2017

By Rep. Steven Mentzer (R-Lititz)
While it has been a rather mild winter so far, the snow, wind and diving temperatures of the past seven days serves notice that your home could become dangerously cold in a snap. That means it’s time to start thinking about ways to conserve heat and energy in your home. It also means folks on fixed incomes will face higher heating bills.

Heating a home is not just a matter of comfort – it is important to the health and well-being of every person living in the home. There are steps you can take to safely, but effectively, lower your heating bills, and if you’re still running into trouble paying those bills, heating assistance is available if you meet certain income guidelines.

Some simple steps to help you conserve heat and keep your bills lower include closing your draperies at night and on cloudy days and opening them on sunny days to allow in the natural warmth of the sun. Use a sunny room as living space to read the paper or eat a meal on sunny, cold days. Upholstered furniture will soak up the heat when placed in a sunny spot.

Install your storm doors and windows. Purchase plastic window covering kits or interior storm window kits. Carefully follow instructions. Seal doors with draft-reducing weather-stripping and door sweeps.

Lower your thermostat to 65 degrees while you are away during the day. Use more blankets in bed at night to keep your body warm without warming your whole home. Wear layers of clothing, such as a sweater over a shirt over an undershirt. This insulates the air trapped between the layers.

Replace furnace filters regularly. Lower the water heater thermostats to the lowest level that meets your hot water needs (midway between the “low” and “medium” settings on many units). Each decrease of 10 degrees saves approximately 5 percent on water heating costs.

If it is still a struggle to pay your heating bill, you may be eligible for help from Pennsylvania’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This valuable program helps low-income households pay their heating bills and provides assistance to individuals in danger of losing heat due to emergency situations.

Cash grants are awarded based on household income, family size, type of heating fuel and region. Crisis grants are also provided in the event of a heating emergency. Emergencies include broken heating equipment or leaking lines that must be fixed or replaced, lack of fuel, termination of utility service, or danger of being without fuel or of having utility service terminated. You do not need to have unpaid bills in order to receive energy assistance, you can either rent or own your home, and you can receive this money without being on welfare. If you are eligible for LIHEAP, a payment will be sent directly to your utility or fuel dealer, and the payment is credited to your bill.

For more information on LIHEAP, visit my website, RepMentzer.com, or contact the toll free LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095 (individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 1-800-451-5886).