As temps drop, heating bills rise – but help is available for families in need

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – With the sudden swing into winter this week, it means many of us are turning up the heat in our homes and with that, comes expensive power bills.

But many families in East Tennessee can’t afford that spike as it gets colder and colder, which is why there are resources to lighten that burden.

The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee assists families in need through LIHEAP or low income home energy assistance program.

With her two girls in tow, Chasity Mcpherson went to the CAC on Wednesday to apply for help in paying her heating bill.

“Because I don’t really have a lot of help, being a single mom is difficult at times but I manage,” she said.

Everyday, 70 people are served through LIHEAP. It’s a one-time payment for a household’s energy costs.

“We have a formula and that formula relates to the number of people in the household, the presence of elderly, small children and disabled. That formula helps us come up to benefit amounts. That benefit amount can be from $350 to $650 based on each individual household,” said Cecelia Waters, Director of Energy and Community Services at CAC.

In 2018, LIHEAP served more than 6,500 households.

“It is important for our community to be whole,” said Waters.

Last year, 504 families stayed safe and warm through Project Help, a KUB partnership with the CAC.

“What Project Help does is provide emergency heating assistance, one time, to someone in need and it helps anyone in the KUB service territory, it’s not just for Knoxville and Knox County,” said Stephanie Midgett with KUB.

As it gets colder out, Midgett says to think ahead, “It’s always important to remember that if you get a bill that you think you’re going to have trouble paying, the first thing you need to do is call KUB that way our call center representatives can look at your account and see what options are available to you.”

The Mcphersons say they’re going into winter with peace of mind, “If it wasn’t for them and God, I probably wouldn’t get help.”

To apply for LIHEAP assistance, you can schedule an appointment by calling (865) 637-6700.

Heating assistance throughout East Tennessee

If you live outside of Knox County, contact East Tennessee Human Resource Agency for energy assistance by clicking here or calling (865) 691-2551. You can also call 211 for guidance on available resources.

Blount County Community Action Agency provides one-time assistance with home energy costs to eligible low-income households. If you’re interested in applying for assistance click here for an appointment and application, or call (865) 983-8411.

Winter energy savings tips

  • Keep your thermostat at 68 degrees or lower
  • Seal leaks around windows and doors to keep out cool drafts; cardboard, plastic and even blankets can be used
  • Replace the filter in your heating equipment
  • Close curtains and blinds at night; then open during the day to let in the sun’s warmth
  • Keep your garage door closed to avoid losing heat
  • Dress in layers

SEEED, or Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development, is making efforts to help people stay energy efficient this season. The KUB workshop will be held at SEEED, 1617 Dandridge Avenue, on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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