Pittsfield- Burdened by the downturn in the economy and a particularly harsh winter, many western Massachusetts area residents have struggled to pay their heating and energy bills this cold season. To help meet their needs, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) encourages all to contact the Energy Bucks program to learn what energy efficiency and cost-saving services they may qualify for.
Funding is still available. This year, Massachusetts’ federal heating assistance allocation nearly doubled from $114 million to $212 million and funding for low-income weatherization increased to $13 million. The deadline to apply for fuel assistance is April 30, 2009.
Energy Bucks is an integrated campaign that creates “one-stop-shopping” for energy assistance services, enabling Massachusetts residents to better understand and apply for programs that can help them manage their energy costs.
Energy efficiency services are available to families at little or no cost depending on their income. Typically, a family of four can qualify for some form of assistance or energy efficiency services if their income is less than $4,124 a month.
These services can help save qualified families up to 30 percent on their energy bills by insulating and weatherizing their homes, repairing or replacing a heating system, receiving discount rates for electric and gas, installing energy efficient appliances and obtaining fuel assistance. By spreading the word about the resources available, Energy Bucks links residents to programs that will help them stretch their dollars as the weather gets colder and budgets get tighter.
While this year’s fuel assistance benefit has increased, providing roughly 10 weeks of heat to oil customers versus last year’s average of 7 weeks, there are also actions residents themselves can take to reduce their energy use and stretch their dollars. Simple steps like taking showers versus baths, which use 40 percent less hot water, and turning off and unplugging all TV’s and computers when not in use, can make a real difference in energy bills. The Energy Bucks website – www.energybucks.com - has more cost-saving tips.
About Energy Bucks:
Energy Bucks is an integrated campaign combining grassroots outreach, community-based activities and advertising to build awareness of the fuel assistance, discount rates and energy efficiency services available to income-eligible families. Energy Bucks is sponsored by Massachusetts utilities including National Grid, NSTAR Electric & Gas, Unitil, Western Massachusetts Electric Company, Berkshire Gas, Bay State Gas, and the Cape Light Compact in collaboration with the Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP) and the Low-Income Energy Affordability Network (LEAN).
To find out if you qualify for assistance, visit www.energybucks.com or call 1-866-LESS-COST.