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Assistance Available for Ohioans Needing Help with Winter Heating Bills

The current economy has left many Ohioans struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, Ohio’s winter season and the increased heating costs places additional financial pressures on many families at the worst possible time. It is important to remember that there are small steps each of us can take to improve energy efficiency and reduce our overall costs, and for those most in need this winter, there are good programs that can help. 

Making a home more energy efficient is one way everyone can reduce their heating and cooling costs. Simple steps such as ensuring a home’s walls, attic and basement are adequately insulated and using weather stripping or plastic sheeting to seal drafty windows can help keep the indoor temperature steady and lower the amount of gas or electricity used. Other energy-saving tips include using an ENERGY STAR-approved furnace and lowering the temperature on your thermostat when you are away from home.

Households with incomes at or below the federal poverty level, as well as those receiving Supplemental Security Income can participate in the Ohio Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP). HWAP provides attic, wall and basement insulation, heating system repairs or replacements and health and safety testing and inspections at no-cost to participating homes.

Those interested in receiving HWAP benefits need to complete an application, which can be found at the Cincinnati-Hamilton Community Action Agency for Hamilton County residents or at the Warren County Community Services for those living in Warren County. Completed applications can also be mailed to the Office of Community Services at the Ohio Department of Development at 77 South High Street, PO Box 1001, Columbus, OH 43216, although contacting the local agencies listed above is the best and quickest way to access HWAP services.

For those households living on fixed incomes, there are several heating assistance programs available to help with higher energy bills. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a federally-funded program that assists low-income Ohioans with the high costs of winter heating by making a one-time credit to their energy bill. Eligible households must have an income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and the amount of the credit will vary depending on the number of people living in the home and the type of fuel used to heat the home.

Applications for HEAP can be found at your local Community Action Agency, Area Agency on Aging, post office, library or county department of Job and Family Services. You can also call HEAP toll-free at 1-800-282-0880.

Customers with incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level may qualify for the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) to make their energy payments more affordable. Additional eligibility requirements for PIPP include receiving your primary or secondary heating source from a company regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and applying for all other energy assistance programs for which you are eligible.

Homeowners can join PIPP at any time during the year and are responsible for the remaining balance when they leave the program. Contact your local gas or electric utility for more specific details on PIPP as well as other assistance and payment plans.

A special component of HEAP is the Winter Crisis Program, which provides assistance once per heating season to low-income households that have been disconnected, face disconnection or have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel. The program can also pay for heating system repairs in certain cases. In order to receive emergency benefits, applicants must also sign up for a payment plan with their local utility.

Finally, each year during the heating season, the PUCO issues a Winter Reconnect Order, which allows residential gas and electric customers who have been disconnected or face disconnection the opportunity to pay no more than $175 plus any applicable reconnection fee to have their service restored or maintained. There are no income requirements to use the Winter Reconnect Order, although customers may use the service only once between now and mid-April.

You can receive more information about any of these programs by contacting your local utility provider or by calling the PUCO at 1-800-686-7826. You can also call the Ohio Consumers’ Council at 1-877-742-5622. Additional information about winter heating assistance from a variety of state agencies and departments is also available online at

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance with heating bills this winter, I hope you will take advantage of any of the programs mentioned above. With help, this season’s temperatures can be a little easier to bear. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.
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