CAO helps residents cut energy costs

Published 9:52 am Monday, August 3, 2015

Through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and its Home Weatherization Program, the Ironton-Lawrence Community Action Organization (CAO) helps residents meet basic needs, such as heating their homes.

Through HEAP, residents who qualify can receive help in paying heat and electric bills. HEAP provides assistance through the winter crisis program, summer crisis program, and PIPP (Percentage of Income Payment Plan). Each of the programs focus on providing specific types of assistance to residents who are eligible based on income level and household size.

HEAP’s winter crisis program helps residents who may lose electrical or heating services due to the inability to pay, said Tiffany Fyffe, HEAP coordinator.

“We can help with gas or electric,” said Fyffe.

When residents need help supplying fuel to heat their homes, the winter crisis program is able to step in and provide bulk fuels to resident on a one-time credit, said Fyffe.

“It’s important to help people stay warm,” said Fyffe. “There are studies that show…a lot of Ohioans are cold.”

The summer crisis program so far this summer has helped nearly 700 eligible residents. The program aims to insure residents who need air conditioning due to medical reasons are not put at risk by losing that utility.

“We want to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses,” said Fyffe. “We do give out air conditioning to people who don’t have central air.”

When it comes to budgeting to pay energy bills, sometimes residents need a helping hand. That’s where the PIPP program comes in. Through PIPP, residents get help managing those bills.

“It’s kind of like a budget,” said Fyffe.

PIPP helps residents pay their bills and assist residents who do not have the resources to pay the full amount of their bill.

Fyffe sees the assistance HEAP provides as an important part of helping the community.

“We have good people who need help,” she said.

The CAO’s Home Weatherization Program helps residents have homes that are energy efficient and makes sure they are not paying higher energy bills because of inefficient energy systems. The program services clients who are eligible for the program based upon their income level and household size.

“We weatherize homes and they have to meet guidelines,” said John Easterling, director of the Home Weatherization Program. “The main purpose of the weatherization is to conserve energy. It does help.”

The weatherization program includes putting insulation in homes and installing smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.

A large number of residents need help weatherizing their homes, but many residents cannot afford the cost, said Easterling. That’s where the program steps in.

“We kind of give them what (people) call client education,” said Easterling.

Easterling believes the weatherization program is a positive for the community and won’t be going away any time soon.

“We’re just blessed to have the program,” said Easterling. “You meet so many nice people who really appreciate the program.”

To find out more about the CAO programs, visit them on the web at ilcao.org.