"Anybody who may need a little help" can apply for energy assistance beginning October 1st

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Fall will eventually give way to winter, and with that in mind comes a reminder that heating assistance is once again available for those who qualify.

The Department of Administration’s State Energy Office reminds residents that heating assistance will be available through the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) from October 1st, 2014 until May 15th, 2015.

The State estimates that 227,000 households will receive assistance in paying their heating bills this season.

Eligibility is based on household income, household size, and the home’s heating costs.  Residents may be eligible if the gross household income is 60% of the state median income level or less.  WHEAP pays benefits directly to fuel suppliers to offset the cost of home heating.  Crisis assistance, emergency fuel assistance, and emergency furnace repair and replacement for eligible homeowners may also be offered based on household need.

Household Size Annual Income
1 $25,151
2 $32,890
3 $40,628
4 $48,367
5 $56,106
6 $63,844
7 $65,295
8 $66,746

Julie Carney's story may remind you of your own.

"I have my own house, so I have to pay for the gas and the electric and water and mortgage and everything," Carney said.

If ever there were an example of a woman doing it all, Carney is it.

"I have a child. I'm six months pregnant. I have a family and I'm the only one working," Carney said.

Thanks to a tip from a friend, she says she'll apply for energy assistance this season.

"Get on it now while we can, rather than wait until the end of the year," Carney said.

Milwaukee County officials are encouraging folks to follow Carney's lead and get in early.

"We all know how Wisconsin is. The weather's kind of fickle. There are some Springs when, you know, that shut off deadline, you know, the moratorium I think they call it is lifted and it's still pretty cold outside -- so again, we just want as many people who might need help to come in and get it now before they're in a crisis situation," Tonya Simpson with the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services said.

Simpson says the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services usually helps about 60,000 households each year, and the average payment is about $370.

"Please people -- realize that this isn't just a welfare benefit or just for people who, you know, are getting other state and federal benefits. Anybody who may need a little help is encouraged to come in," Simpson said.

This heating season, the average heating benefit is expected to around $267, which is based upon an estimate that Wisconsin will receive $92 million in federal funds.  When the state receives the full amount of federal funds, the average heating benefit is expected to increase.  Last year, 224,728 households received heating assistance with an average benefit of $302.

For more information on the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) and how to apply, please call 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947), or visit the "Where to Apply" tab on homeenergyplus.wi.gov to find your local energy assistance agency.

You can also get more information from the SDC and Community Advocates.