As some of you may know, I am on the board of the Norwell Council on Aging. At a recent meeting, we discussed a dramatic increase in the number of applications for heating assistance in town. The increase is understandable considering how much heating costs have gone up this year. According to AARP, Massachusetts residents have seen electricity prices rise by 64 percent while the price of natural gas has increased by nearly 30 percent—and winter hasn’t even officially begun!
I would like to share some vital information about how to stay warm this winter.
First of all, you should know that in Massachusetts utility companies are not permitted to shut off a resident’s electricity or gas between November 15th and March 15th. Of course, this is not a solution, it is a reprieve. Your bill doesn’t magically go away, nor are you protected against having your electricity or gas shut off after March 15th.
Fortunately, resources are available to help you manage increasing energy costs. A good way to start is to contact your local senior center. Your local utility provider may also offer some assistance. You can ask about special discount rates for qualified customers, setting up a payment plan, and enrolling in energy efficiency and weatherization audit programs to reduce your energy consumption.
Another option is to utilize the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). You can find valuable information about this and other programs here.
LIHEAP provides assistance to those with low, moderate, and fixed incomes. Sadly, many people don’t take advantage of this opportunity because they are not aware of it or believe they won’t qualify. The link above contains a detailed table showing program eligibility based on household size and gross income. Again, talk to your senior center and they can help you with LIHEAP.
If you are struggling to cover the increased cost of home heating during these inflationary times, I hope you take advantage of all available resources. If someone you care about is struggling, please share this information.
Until next time, take care…