Heating assistance available during winter months

MADISON -- State officials remind residents that heating assistance is available to help keep families warm during the cold winter months. Heating assistance is available statewide for eligible applicants through the Home Energy Plus Program from now until May 15, 2013. The state estimates that 220,000 households will receive heating assistance this season.

The Home Energy Plus Program receives federal funding for heating assistance. Eligibility is based upon household income, household size and home heating costs to determine the amount of benefits an individual or family can receive between October 1–May 15. The program pays benefits directly to fuel suppliers, which is designed to offset the cost of home heating. Crisis assistance may be available year round based on household need and available funding.

The average heating benefit this year is expected to be $240, which is down from the average $348 average benefit during last year’s heating season for 221,785 households. The federal government has allocated less funding for heating assistance this year, although it may make additional funds available in the future. If the federal government issues additional funds to states during the heating season, there will be an increase in heating assistance benefits available to Wisconsin residents and families.

Residents can apply for heating assistance through county social service offices, tribal governments and private non-profit agencies. Call toll-free 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947) or visit the Home Energy Plus Where to Apply webpage for the local agency in your area. Residents may be eligible if the gross household income is 60% of the state median income level or less.