It may be March, but it isn’t spring yet… As recent snow storms prove, Massachusetts winters can be long and unpredictable. Heating your home can be a costly endeavor, but for some there may be help. If you meet the requirements you may be eligible for home heating assistance. Below you will find three programs that help with rising heating costs. Not everyone will qualify but don’t despair, there may be steps you can take to reduce your energy bills. Check out the energy saving tips below from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
DOER Fuel Assistance Programs
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) known commonly as Fuel Assistance, operates between November 1st and April 30th, offering financial assistance to residents whom are at or below 200% of the federal poverty income level. LIHEAP pays benefits based on household income.
Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program (HEARTWAP). HEARTWAP provides heating system services to low-income households. The program operates year-round through local non profit agencies.
Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). WAP assists low-income households in reducing their heating bills by providing full-scale home energy conservation services (also called weatherization). Households qualifying for LIHEAP or receiving Aid to Families with Children or Social Security Income are eligible for WAP.
Call the Cold Relief Heatline at 1-800-632-8175 to find out where to apply for Fuel Assistance (LIHEAP), Weatherization (WAP), and the Heating System Repair and Replacement Program (HEARTWAP).
Here is a consumer tip sheet with more information.
DOER Energy Saving Tips
Windows and Doors
- Repair broken or cracked glass and putty older windows; check to see that windows close properly and window locks pull sashes together.
- Make sure doors close properly; repair or replace non-working doorknobs, latches and striker plates.
- Weather-strip windows, doors and attic accesses; caulk the frames around windows and doors from the inside using a clear, pliable caulk.
Other Air Leaks
- If you have a fireplace, be sure it is fitted with a tight sealing damper that is closed when the fireplace is not in use. If the fireplace is used infrequently, use a chimney block to eliminate heat loss.
- Caulk foundation cracks and openings. Make sure kitchen and bathroom vent dampers close properly.
Lights and Hot Water
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent lights. Over its lifetime, a fluorescent bulb will save $30 – $50. Look for rebates from utilities to save you even more. Today’s new compact fluorescent bulbs perform even better than the models of a few years ago.
- Install low flow showerheads and faucet aerators to save energy and water.
- Reduce your hot water heater temperature to 120°.
- Repair leaking hot water faucets, tanks and pipes.
Other Energy Tips
In addition, the following improvements can save more money on heating bills, although they generally require a greater up-front investment of time or money. Contact your gas or electric utility to find any rebates or other assistance that they may offer for such measures.
- Install automatic setback thermostats that adjust the heat to your schedule.
- Insulate attics (especially attics with less than seven inches of insulation), walls, and flooring over unheated crawl spaces or basements.
- Install exterior storm windows, including cellar storm windows. For windows that are rarely opened, consider installing interior storm windows.
- If you plan to replace your present oil or gas heating system, select a high efficiency unit with an Annual Fuel Use Efficiency Rating (AFUE) of at least 82 percent. Make sure the heating system is properly “sized” for your home; many systems are too large for the space being heated the result is a considerable waste of dollars.
- Replace standard curtains with tight sealing, insulated or quilted window coverings.
- For additional energy savings, DOER recommends that residential customers take advantage of the statewide MassSAVE programs by visiting www.masssave.com.