Winter warmth: assistance available

Indiana County is deep into December. Soon, the area will be deep into snow, ice and constant freezing weather. And many of our neighbors will be deep into a struggle with heating bills, on top of the daily costs of food and medicine, let alone holiday shopping.

Many area residents need to know help is available for managing winter heating costs. Rising fuel and energy costs have taken some of the biggest and most unexpected bites out of household budgeting in 2022.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and many utility companies are leaders in the campaign to provide assistance to those who need it most. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, is accepting applications to aid families with children, older Pennsylvanians, people with disabilities and low-income households in meeting their winter utility bills. Residents may phone 866.550.4355.

Contacting utility companies first is the primary advice from the PUC (online, follow #CallUtilitiesNow for helpful links). Regulated companies can work with customers to adjust their payment plans, provide advice for improving energy efficiency and reducing heating costs, and refer those in need to special assistance programs.

Help is not hard to find. Utility customers may phone 866.550.4355 to apply for LIHEAP and learn about other public assistance programs. Others may contact the Indiana County Assistance Office at 724.357.2900 or visit the assistance office at 2750 West Pike Road, in White Township, for help. Pennsylvania also provides the COMPASS website and mobile app for those in need. Visit www.compass.state.pa.us or phone 877.395.8930.