LIHEAP Assistance

By: Rebekah Baum
By: Rebekah Baum

LIHEAP, or Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, provides important energy cost relief to thousands of our neighbors, and the number of people receiving assistance this year is growing.

Lisa Cheairs has five children to keep warm this winter, and with an expected double-digit increase in energy prices, that burden is becoming too heavy to hold.

Lisa and her aunt stopped by the Rockford Salvation Army, one of LIHEAP's intake sites, to fill out an application for assistance. At Rockford's Human Services Department, energy director Mark Bixby says they're expecting to help between 8,000 and 9,000 households this year, a significant increase from last year.

LIHEAP, which runs through April, provides a one-time benefit to eligible households to be used for energy bills. The amount of payment is determined by income, household size and several other factors, but Bixby says whether you use the LIHEAP program or not, energy costs can place a severe stress on a family's budget and hopefully this assistance will warm up Lisa Chearis' budget so she'll be able to afford all the basic necessities her children need this winter.

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Energy Saving Tips

Insulation

  • check the insulation in the attic, ceilings, basement walls and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels recommended for your area.

  • Insulation is measured in "R" values -- the higher the "R" value, the better your walls and roofs will resist the transfer of heat.

  • Check to see what your insulation needs are in your area here

  • Insulation usually comes in four types:

    • 1.) Batts: Usually made of fiber glass or rock wool. Made to fit between the studs in your walls or between the joists of your ceilings or floors.
    • 2.) Rolls: Made of fiber glass and can be laid over the floor in the attic.
    • 3.) Loose-fill: Made of fiber glass, rock wool or cellulose, is blown into the attic or walls. Cellulose is usually made from recycled newsprint treated with fire-retardant chemicals.
    • 4.) Rigid foam boards are made of polyisocyanurate, extruded polystyrene, and expanded polystyrene. These boards are lightweight, provide structural support, and generally have an "R" value of 4 to 7 per inch. This is made to be used in confined spaces such as exterior walls, basements, foundation and stem walls, concrete slabs and cathedral ceilings.

    Heating Systems

    • Your home's duct system, a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings, carries the air from your home's furnace and central air conditioner to each room.

    • Unfortunately, many duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated properly.

    • Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is even more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawl space.

    • Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.

    • If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age.

    • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both.

    • Get a professional to help you insulate and repair all ducts.

    Programmable Thermostats

    • You can save as much as 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

    • you don't operate the equipment as much when you are asleep or when the house or part of the house is not occupied.

    Source: www.eren.doe.gov contributed to this report.


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