Pawlenty: $144 Million Federal Grant for Heating Assistance and Weatherization

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Saint Paul – Governor Tim Pawlenty announced today that Minnesota will receive $144.5 million in federal funds for its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for this year. The money is part of the continuing resolution signed by President Bush this week and is almost double the normal appropriation for Minnesota. The funding was released now to ensure states have the resources available to support their energy assistance programs as the weather turns colder.

“Minnesota can be an awfully cold place in the winter, but no one should go without heat because they’ve fallen on hard times,” Governor Pawlenty said. “This federal funding will allow us to begin assisting low income households immediately this fall and early winter. Our administration has been aggressive in seeking federal funds and providing state assistance to help Minnesotans get through our winters.”

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce through 38 local service providers around the state. The program helps low-income customers pay their heating bills through grant money paid directly to the utility company on behalf of the customer.

The average grant per household is about $500. Customers with less than 50 percent of the state median income ($39,414 for a family of four) may qualify. Households with seniors, disabled, and children are especially encouraged to apply. The program is administered on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Weatherization program also receives increase

The continuing resolution passed by Congress also includes additional funding for low income weatherization projects in Minnesota. The state currently serves 3,000 households with this program but will be able to expand that with the new allocation of $16 million.

The weatherization program provides home energy conservation audits, safety inspections and assessments of furnaces and indoor air quality. People must first apply for Energy Assistance in order to be considered for weatherization services. Both homeowners and renters can apply for Energy Assistance and Weatherization.

The Energy Information Center, at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, provides a wide range of energy saving information that any homeowner can use to help control their heating costs.

Energy saving recommendations include:

* Seal attic bypasses. The Attic Bypass Guide from the Energy Information Center will help you locate and fix leaks inside your home that allow heated air to escape into the attic.
* Turn down your thermostat to 65° while at home and 55° or 60° when away or asleep.
* Replace your old furnace with a new, efficient model. Look for the ENERGY STAR label on all new appliances.
* Replace or clean furnace filters monthly during the heating season.
* Place window film on the interior of the leakiest windows in your home.
* Install a carbon monoxide alarm.
* Call your utility about having a home energy audit and ask about a budget plan to spread out your heating costs.
* Keep radiators and duct registers clean.
* Call, write, or email for our Low Cost-No Cost Home Energy Guides that contain many ways to help control energy costs all year long.

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