Help Paying Your Heating Bill

By Mike Trim

July 22, 2010 Updated Jan 4, 2006 at 3:05 PM EDT

New York State Electric and Gas says shutting off service during cold weather months is a last resort for delinquent bills.
But for financially strained households in danger of that happening, there is a way to keep the heat running.
It's called the Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP.
"In the winter time, we start to get hit with these heating bills here in the Northeast. And anything that can help ease that a bit, that's certainly what the Home Energy Assistance Program was created for," says Rita Meatty of Broome County Social Services.
For those who are eligible, the federally funded HEAP money can be distributed in two ways.
First, it can pay up to 30 days of an energy provider or fuel vendor bill.
After that, if your heat is still in jeopardy of being shut off, an emergency HEAP grant ranging from 100 to 400 dollars can be given.
With growing fuel costs this winter, Broome County Social Services says it's seen record HEAP applications.
"It's very quickly growing. We've seen a 24 percent increase in volume over last year. In the first 6 months of this year, we've had two thousand one hundred people apply for HEAP benefits," says Art Broome County Social Services Commissioner Art Johnson.
And those benefits can help you raise the thermostat without worrying about being left out in the cold.
But it's not just natural gas or electricity customers who are eligible.
HEAP money can also be given to those who use kerosene or wood as their heating source.
The eligibility requirements for HEAP is based on your total monthly income compared to your household size.
Once someone is given the OK to receive HEAP assistance, the awarded benefits are paid directly to the heating vendor.
Which will keep the heat on during the cold winter months.
For more information on how you can apply for HEAP assistance in your county, call 1-800-342-3009.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.