Given the harsh winter weather conditions affecting Long Island, New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) today encouraged local families to take steps to reduce their energy bills and protect themselves from the cold.
"This winter, the snow and sub-freezing temperatures on Long Island have driven up home heating bills and created hazardous conditions," said Senator Skelos. "Through the HEAP program, New York State helps alleviate the financial burden high heating bills impose on seniors and working families. Also, there are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce these costs and ensure our safety."
Through New York State’s Home Energy Assistance Program ("HEAP"), seniors and low-income families may be eligible to receive assistance on their home heating bills. To participate, households must directly pay for heating costs, or pay rent that includes their heating bill, and qualify under the program’s income eligibility guidelines. For example, two-person households must have a gross monthly income of $2,226 or less, with eligible families of four limited to $3,273 per month. Depending on the applicant’s income, energy costs and the presence of young children, seniors or the disabled, HEAP provides eligible households with a monthly benefit ranging from $40 to $400. In crisis situations, HEAP may also prevent the termination of utility service.
To apply for HEAP savings, seniors (age 60+) and persons that are permanently disabled may apply by mail to the Nassau County Department of Senior Citizens’ Affairs at 60 Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, Uniondale, NY 11553. For more information and an application, please call (516) 227-7386. All other applicants must apply in person at EAC, Inc., 175 Fulton Avenue, Suite 401, Hempstead, New York 11550 (phone number 565-4327). To receive more information about HEAP, please contact the appropriate number listed above, the statewide information line at 1-800-342-3009 or Senator Skelos’ office at 766-8383.
To save money on energy bills during the high-cost winter season, follow these simple tips:
* Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Lighting accounts for 15% of a home’s electricity usage and compact fluorescent light bulbs use 66% less energy and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing five of your most used incandescent light bulbs, alone, will save nearly $50 each year.
* Use a programmable thermostat with your heating system to adjust the setting at night or when no one is home.
*Make sure that your heat pump is not blocked by leaves, shrubbery or other objects and that heating registers are not blocked by draperies, furniture or rugs.
* Keep blinds and drapes of sun-exposed windows open in the daytime and closed at night.
* Install rubber gaskets behind outlets and switchplates on exterior walls. These gaskets can be purchased at most home improvement stores.
* Reversing the direction of ceiling fan blades pushes warm air down into rooms, requiring less heat to keep you warm.
According to the New York State Office for Aging, seniors should following winter safety tips to help make winter safer and more bearable:
* If you choose to shovel yourself, remember that you may get tired more quickly in the cold. Don’t push yourself. Instead, take more breaks than usual. Exhaustion makes you more susceptible to frostbite, injuries and hypothermia.
* Use a sturdy, lightweight shove to push snow out of the way. If you must lift the snow, take small scoops. The best time to shovel is before meals or one to two hours after eating. Stop shoveling immediately and get medical attention if you feel pain or heaviness in your chest, become dizzy, faint or start sweating heavily.
* Make sure you winterize your car, properly inflate and rotate your tires and replace worn windshield wipers before the harsh winter weather begins. Have your anti-freeze levels checked or your radiator flushed and filled for easier starting in the winter.
* Drive according to road conditions. If roads are snow-covered or icy, slow down. Remember, while roads may appear in good condition, it only takes one small mistake for an accident to happen.
* Dress for winter by covering as much exposed skin as possible. Wear several layers of lightweight clothing for easy movement. A hat is important because much of your body heat escapes from an uncovered head. Mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves and may be easier to wear.
* To avoid slips and falls, wear boots that are non-skid. If you use a cane, replace the rubber tip before it is worn smooth or it will become slippery. Consider purchasing an ice pick that fits onto the end of the cane. The sharp tip will give you extra grip on winter days and folds up when not in use. This device is available at home health care stores.
* Visibility is reduced in snowy weather and darkness falls earlier. Make sure that you can see your way clearly by having well-lit walkways around your home. Also, make sure that others see you. Wear light or bright colors or add reflective material to your clothing.