The lazy, hazy days of summer are here, and the warmer temperatures have many of us turning up the air conditioning and heading to the pool or a movie theater to try and stay cool. Keeping comfortable in this weather can be a challenge, but fortunately there is help available for those Ohioans who are finding it difficult to keep up with increased energy costs this time of year.
Many of you are already aware of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), a federally-funded program that assists low-income Ohioans with their winter heating costs. What you may not know is that there is a special component of HEAP dedicated to helping eligible families with their electric bills in the summer or with the purchase of an air conditioning unit.
The HEAP Summer Crisis Program began in July and will continue through the end of this month. To qualify for the program, households must have an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and must include a member who is 60 years old or older or has an illness verified by a physician that would benefit from cooling assistance. Eligible households will receive a one-time payment of up to $175 to be used towards payment of an electric bill or the purchase of an air conditioner unit or a fan.
Senior citizens and other families on fixed incomes are often unable to afford an air conditioning unit and can struggle with increased energy costs during the summer months. In addition, individuals who live alone may not want to leave windows or doors open due to safety concerns, and without a fan or other equipment to let air circulate inside the home, the temperature inside their home can quickly become unsafe. The assistance provided by the HEAP Summer Crisis Program allows these families to keep their homes cool without placing more of a financial burden on them during these challenging times.
Ensuring that Ohio seniors and those individuals with certain medical conditions are cool in hot weather is about more than simply comfort – it also protects their health and well-being. Every year we read about unfortunate incidents where a person without air conditioning or a fan becomes overheated in their home and requires medical treatment, or tragically, dies.
Applications for HEAP can be found at your local Community Action Agency, Area Agency on Aging, post office, library or county department of Job and Family Services. You can also call HEAP toll-free at 1-800-282-0880 or visit www.energyhelpohio.gov.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at SD07@senate.state.oh.us or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
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