Old Man Winter has settled in, and it looks like he’ll be here for a while. Temperatures have dropped, and unfortunately, home-heating bills have risen for many families.

The higher bills are putting a strain on many household budgets.

But people do not need to be left out in the cold. Help paying heating bills is available for many families through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, commonly known as LIHEAP.

LIHEAP offers two types of grants and the amount of each type of grant depends on income, household size, type of heating fuel and region of the state. Cash grants help families pay regular monthly heating bills. Crisis grants are available to pay for heating emergencies such as a broken furnace, a fuel shortage or utility service shutoff. 

To qualify, a household of one can earn up to $16,335, while a family of four can earn up to $33,525 and qualify. LIHEAP grants do not have to be paid back. The names of every person living in a household, their dates of birth, Social Security numbers, proof of income and a recent heating bill are required to apply.

Applications are available in my office at 3689 California Ave., in Brighton Heights. Please stop by if you would like help filling out the forms. You can call my office at 412-321-5523.

You also can apply online at www.humanservices.state.pa.us/compass.web.

The deadline to apply is March 30. However, you should apply early for the program. LIHEAP funding is limited due to federal cuts to the program, and the funds may run out before the program deadline comes.

If you can’t benefit from this program, but know someone who can, please pass along this information so they don’t get left out in the cold this winter.

If you want tips about energy savings, visit the Public Utility Commission’s website at www.puc.state.pa.us.