LA CROSSE, (WEAU)- Temperatures are falling and chances are your furnace will kick into high gear. State officials are reminding homeowners that heating assistance is available to those struggling with energy bills, but this year the state is giving out less money per household as the federal government tightens it’s grip.
The state estimates more than 220,000 homes will be helped this winter with the heating assistance program.
Click Here for the Home Energy Plus Where to Apply web-page.
But payment averages are expected to be down more than 100 dollars per household this year because of less funding from the federal government.
Last year a total of 214,968 households participated in the heating assistance program. It was a mild winter, and each household was given an average of $348 for the winter season. This year the state is averaging $223 given to each household.
“This is a federal program,” explained La Crosse Economic Support Supervisor Tom Miller. “The money from the federal government trickles down to the states, and the states determines what the average base is going to be based on projections of how many people are going to apply.”
The program helps pay the heating bills October through May for eligible households, but can be applied for at any time. The benefits are paid directly to the fuel suppliers.
“To be considered eligible primary factors looked at are your income, number of people in the household and fuel costs,”
Miller says both locally and the state are expecting to see a jump in the number of applicants now that there have been the first significant snowfall. Already more than 126,000 have applied within the state for heating assistance, more than half of number that applied last year (214, 968).
To apply for heating assistance can call the toll free help line 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947) or Click Here for the Home Energy Plus Where to Apply web-page.