It is that time of year again when you can see the seasons turning right before your eyes. We enjoy the vast array of colors now, but we dread what is coming after the sweet music of fall has played its last note. Yes, it's true; winter will be here soon. It's inevitable.
Winter weather brings winter bills, and that is the unfortunate focus of many families around the holidays. If you are struggling financially this year, the Wayne Township Trustee Office wants to inform you of a program here in Fort Wayne called Energy Assistance.
The CANI Energy Assistance program will begin on November 4th. The Energy Assistance Program helps pay a portion of one's winter heating bills. To apply you may call CANI at 423-3546 or call 211 for an appointment. There are a few items that you must bring to your appointment. First, proof of income for the last 12 months for all household members over the age of 18 is required. Anyone over 18 with no income must submit a Zero Income Verification Form and a Wage History Statement. You must also bring copies of current utility bills including electric and gas. If attending school, you must bring in your current school schedule. You must also provide a social security number for all persons in the household over age 1. If you are renting, you must submit a copy of a lease. There will also be a Landlord Affidavit for your landlord to submit.
Another part of the Energy Assistance Program is that in some circumstances it allows your household to be put under a moratorium, which allows your gas to stay on through the winter months. Even if you are under the moratorium, you should continue paying as much as you can on your heating bills throughout the winter, because if no payment is made you will be looking at an extremely large bill once the spring weather hits and there will not be many agencies helping at that part of the year. Any questions pertaining to Energy Assistance should be directed to the Energy Assistance Professional.
If you are having a hard time financially and you think you will need further assistance this winter paying high heating bills, here are some tips that will help you maintain a lower heating bill. According to an article on Energy Efficiency by Christopher Solomon, turn down the thermostat. "The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat full time", says Bill Prindle, deputy director for the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Turn down the thermostat 10 degrees when you go to work, and again when you go to bed -- a total of 16 hours a day -- and you can save about 14% on your heating bill, says Prindle.
"Another tip that is easy to do is to use fans wisely." In just one hour, a hard-working bathroom or kitchen fan can expel a houseful of warm air, according to the Department of Energy. Turn them off as soon as they've done their jobs. Also, close off seldom-used rooms and shut the vents inside. Another way to save is by turning down your water heater. Lowering the temperature of water in the water heater to 115-120 degrees reduces power use without a noticeable difference to the user. Keeping heating vents clear will also help reduce the amount of your bill. Be sure to remove any rugs or furniture away from your vents, because that could prevent heated air from circulating effectively. Lastly use curtains. Opening curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the day allows solar radiation to warm a living space; closing all curtains at night helps retard the escape of that heat. You can find these and more tips at www.Energy.gov.
Should you need additional assistance with your heating bills after using Energy Assistance, be sure to call 260-449-7000 to find out how to apply here at the Wayne Township Trustee Office. Each client that receives assistance from Wayne Township must apply for Energy Assistance. The township assistance, combined with Energy Assistance, along with doing the best you can individually, should allow all community members and their families to enjoy heat during the harsh winter months.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee