YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Cold temperatures often mean your heating bill goes up, and trying to afford that can be difficult for many area families.
Last year, more than 35,000 families used energy assistance programs in Mahoning County. But, most of those programs are geared toward low-income families or people with fixed incomes.
So, people may find creative and sometimes dangerous ways to stay warm.
“Each winter, you hear about fires that were started because people are using their stoves to heat. They’re using kerosene heaters, they’re using old electric heaters,” said Shelia Triplett, executive director for MYCAP (Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Program).
These alternative heat sources can also drive bills up to the point where people can’t even afford to keep their heat on.
Triplett says the older your home is, the more you’re probably going to be paying your energy company.
“They’re hard to heat. They’re using more energy services than most people would use, and so that’s what gets them in trouble financially because they can’t pay the high gas bills — the high electric bills. And so, they come to us for assistance,” Triplett said.
MYCAP is a local non-profit organization that has programs specifically designed to help people pay off these bills.
One is called HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program). It can help you pay your bill and in some cases, turn your heat back on.
Another is called PIPP (Percentage of Income Payment Plan). It can help you keep the heat going by having you pay your bill according to how much you make, which can be as low as $10.
MYCAP even has a program to replace the real energy-suckers in your house, like an old refrigerator or freezer.
“The program is designed to go in there and if the usage is above what is determined to be efficient, then they can get the free appliances and light bulbs,” Triplett said.
To apply for these programs, you can go online and fill out an application and mail it in. Or, you can go to MYCAP’s office, located at 1044 Belmont Ave.
“Call us and let us help you, and don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re doing something that could possibly cost you your life or a serious injury,” Triplett said.
To fill out applications for any of these programs, or for more resources, CLICK HERE.