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Frigid November: Energy Assistance Can Keep Indiana Homes Warm

PHOTO: Low-income homeowners in Indiana who need help keeping their homes warm can apply for assistance through the Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP. Photo credit: Freeman/morguefile.
PHOTO: Low-income homeowners in Indiana who need help keeping their homes warm can apply for assistance through the Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP. Photo credit: Freeman/morguefile.
November 19, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Inches of snow and temperatures below zero are making it an especially frigid November in Indiana, which translates to higher heating bills. The Energy Assistance Program might be able to help cushion the blow for those who struggle to keep their homes warm.

The program provides utility assistance to families with incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, said Taura Edwards, director of community programs for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

"They can receive help with their regular utility bill," she said. "If the family is in crisis or is up for disconnection, has been disconnected or out of deliverable fuel, they can receive a one-time benefit to support that utility cost."

The maximum benefit this year is $395, and last winter the program served more than 130,000 households. From Dec. 1 to March 15, natural gas utilities in the state do not disconnect service to customers enrolled in the program, known as "LIHEAP," who fall behind on their bill.

This is a good time of year for all homeowners to start thinking about energy conservation and ways to keep the cold air outside, Edwards said, adding that a few simple steps can make a difference.

"Keep your curtains closed, create a barrier between your house and the window," she said. "You'll want to check your window to make sure that there's no air seeping in within cracks. You'll also want to look at your door sweeps to make sure there's no air flowing in from a door."

For those with a fireplace, she suggested keeping the damper closed when not in use to prevent cold air from entering the house. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning the thermostat down 15 degrees for eight hours while you are asleep or out of the house can save around 10 percent on heating and cooling bills.

More information on the program is online at in.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN