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As Winter Moves In, Granite Staters Urged to Apply for Fuel Assistance

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Friday, November 19, 2021   

CONCORD, N.H. -- As cold weather moves in, Granite Staters are being urged to apply for fuel assistance, if they think they might need some help heating their homes through the winter.

The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is designed to help renters and homeowners, and in New Hampshire, households making at or below 60% of the state median income are eligible. For a family of four, it equates to just over $72,000 a year.

Eileen Smiglowski, water/fuel assistance program administrator for the New Hampshire Department of Energy, said the income threshold is higher than many people may think, because it is important to ensure people stay warm.

"With New Hampshire being obviously in one of the colder parts of the country, it's just really important that that money is there and available to help people with large energy bills that just don't have the capacity to pay them," Smiglowski explained.

Yesterday, the Department of Energy announced a 60% increase in benefits, which equates to a range of $250 to $2,500. The range last year was $160 to $1,575. The jump is intended to accommodate increased energy costs, as the price of natural gas has nearly doubled in the last year.

New Hampshire is the ninth-coldest state in the nation. In January, temperatures often range from -4 degrees to +15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smiglowski urged eligible residents to contact their local Community Action Agency to apply. If you are unsure which is your local agency, you can search online at CAPNH.org/cap-lookup, or call 2-1-1.

"Hopefully, we can get a lot of people who might be struggling -- especially this year, as fuel prices are going to be going up, potentially quite a bit -- that we can at least help them get some of that burden off their back," Smiglowski emphasized.

Utility companies said it is also important to make sure your heating system is upgraded and working as efficiently as possible to keep bills down. They suggested checking filters and vents are clean; working to caulk, weatherstrip and seal drafty doors and windows; and to open blinds and curtains during the day to take advantage of the natural heat from sunlight.


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