April 20, 2014

Medina
Hazy sunshine
69°F

Heating help still available as new cold wave takes over

The sign at Third Federal Bank at state Route 18 and Foote Road in Medina Township reads 5 degrees at 9 p.m. Tuesday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

The sign at Third Federal Bank at state Route 18 and Foote Road in Medina Township reads 5 degrees at 9 p.m. Tuesday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

As temperatures plummet again, more residents in Medina County and across Ohio need help in paying skyrocketing heating bills.

“We used to have on any given day one or two people asking for assistance,” Mead Wilkins, director of Medina County Job and Family Services said. “This winter we’re averaging 12 to 15 people a day.”

So far this year, 613 Medina County households have enrolled in the federal Home Energy Assistance Program, according to Norma Smith, of Community Action Wayne/Medina Counties.

Smith said 586 Medina County households were enrolled last winter.

HEAP is a federally funded program designed to help eligible low-income Ohioans meet the high costs of home heating. The one-time HEAP benefit will depend on federal funding levels, how many people live in a household, total household income, and the primary fuel used for heat.

Wilkins said the increase in applications in Medina County likely stems from the cancellation of long-term unemployment benefits last month and the inability of some residents to meet the state’s newly mandated work requirement for food stamp assistance.

In addition to the regular program, the HEAP Winter Crisis Program will provide assistance to eligible households that are threatened with disconnection, have been disconnected or have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel.

Smith said that of the 613 HEAP households in the county, more than 250 of them use fuel oil or propane to heat their homes.

That’s significant, Wilkins said, because there is a propane shortage that has caused the price to rise about 30 percent across the state, making it harder for many rural residents to keep their homes warm.

Gov. John Kasich has declared an emergency and also lifted state restrictions to help residents have faster and easier access to heating fuel.

As a result of Kasich’s emergency declaration, the agency can provide up to two deliveries within 30 days instead of the usual one.

But Smith said some fuel companies are limiting the amount they will transport because of the shortage, with one company only able to deliver 150 gallons of fuel per customer until the company receives its bulk delivery.

Ohio is not alone in the fuel crisis. The harsh winter has caused a propane shortage that led the U.S. Department of Transportation to lift restrictions on delivery of propane and fuel oil in 23 states.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.

HEATING HELP

The Home Energy Assistance Program is a federally funded program designed to help eligible low-income Ohioans meet the high costs of home heating.

For those eligible, the amount of the one-time HEAP benefit will depend on federal funding levels, how many people live in the household and total household income, and the primary fuel you use to heat your home.

In most cases, the one-time benefit will be a credit applied to your energy bill by your utility company or fuel vendor.

Applicants for HEAP must be at or below 175 percent of the Fiscal Year 2013 federal poverty guidelines listed below:

  • One-person household: $5,027 three-month income, $20,108 yearly income
  • Two-person household: $6,786 three-month income, $27,143 yearly income
  • Three-person household: $8,545 three-month income, $34,178 yearly income
  • Four-person household: $10,303 three-month income, $41,213 yearly income
  • Five-person household: $12,062 three-month income, $48,248 yearly income
  • Six-person household: $13,821 three-month income, $55,283 yearly income
  • Seven-person household: $15.580 three-month income, $62,318 yearly income
  • Eight-person household: $17,338 three-month income, $69,353 yearly income
  • Above eight, add $7,035 per person in yearly income.

Assistance in applying for the program is available at Community Action Wayne/Medina’s office at 820B W. Lafayette Road, Medina. For more information or to schedule an appointment for Mondays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; or Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.; or Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., call (330) 723-2229.

Additional Thursday-only appointments are available 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Community Action Wayne/Medina Rittman Outreach Center, 110 S. Main St., Rittman.

Help also is available without an appointment 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

More information also is available at www.cawm.org.

HEATING TIPS

Angie’s List tips to keep warm — and safe — if your power goes out or you run out of heating fuel:

• Space heaters are designed to be powered only by their original power cords plugged directly into outlets with arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) and ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection — not standard outlets.

• If you use an extension cord to give your space heater longer reach, use only a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger, not standard extension cords.

• If you use a fuel-powered heater, use only the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer.

• Keep flammable items at least three feet away from the space heaters.

• Make sure your smoke alarms are in good working order.

• Check outlets and cords periodically to ensure they are in good condition.

• Turn heaters off while you sleep.

• Have an escape route planned just in case there’s a fire.

Angie’s List has gathered consumer reviews and information from highly rated electricians and heating experts and posted them on its website, www.angieslist.com, for the past 18 years.