If you thought this November seems colder than it is supposed to, you are right, so far. Weather watchers at National Fuel report, so far this season is temperatures in Western New York are 9.6 percent lower than normal, so expect a slight uptick in your heating bill.
For those reasons, utility officials are urging families to sign up for every benefit available to help pay their heating bills, most notably, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
The Erie County Department of Social Services opened its new downtown office, Tuesday, to process HEAP applications. The opening was greeted by a line of applications, which prompted county officials to encourage families to file for benefits online.
Officials also point out HEAP is not just for low-income families and individuals. Under HEAP guidelines in New York, a family of four can qualify for benefits with an annual gross income up to $55,178. A family of eight can earn as much as $76,146 and qualify for HEAP assistance.
National Fuel spokesperson Karen Merkel said this year, the state provides an additional discount, through the Statewide Low Income Program (SLIP) for families enrolled in HEAP with qualifying incomes.
“Customers that are struggling to pay their heating bill–their natural gas bill–they need to call us, because we have a variety of programs that are individually based.”
Merkel added, special protections can be afforded households with senior citizens, children under 18 years old, and for the blind or disabled.