Deal Finder: Get assistance with heating bills, weatherizing your home

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By LATINA EMERSON, The Shopper Deal Finder

Energy prices are rising, and this means consumers will pay higher home heating costs this winter. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that U.S. households will spend 43 percent more on heating oil, 30 percent more on natural gas, 54 percent more on propane and 6 percent more on electricity compared to last winter.

Many families and individuals are already feeling the strain on their wallets from higher prices for fuel, food and consumer goods. To prevent local residents from having to choose between necessities and heating their homes, several federal and local programs are offering assistance with home heating bills.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally-funded program, has returned this year to assist consumers with their home energy bills and weatherizing their homes against cold weather. Also, local organizations, such as The Salvation Army, are assisting those in need with utility bills.

In addition, some utility and energy companies are helping customers to save money with fixed monthly bills and free home energy efficiency improvements. Learn more about these services:

LIHEAP

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps to offset the costs of home energy, gas or propane bills for households that meet certain income requirements. Designed to reduce the risk of health and safety problems such as illness, fire or disconnection, LIHEAP offers financial assistance with energy bill payments and energy crises, as well as support for weatherization or minor energy-related home repairs.

Home Energy Bills

Seniors who are 65 and older could start applying for home energy bill assistance on Nov. 1. All November appointments are filled, but seniors who weren’t able to get an appointment and other eligible individuals of all ages can apply on Dec. 1.

For the Coweta County area, applicants must schedule an appointment online via Community Action for Improvement Inc.’s website at https://cafi.timetap.com.

To qualify, applicants must meet basic requirements: 1) U.S. citizen or legally admitted immigrant, 2) total gross annual household income at or below 60 percent of the State Median Income Guidelines for Georgia and 3) be responsible for paying the cost of energy bills for the household or be able to verify an energy burden.

Applicants must provide the following documents: proof of income for all household members for the past 30 days, proof of Social Security number for all household members, the most recent copy of the household energy bill and proof of U.S. citizenship or legal immigrant status.

To be eligible for assistance, the applicant’s household energy supplier must be a registered vendor for the LIHEAP program with the Department of Human Services. All LIHEAP assistance payments are applied directly to the energy account through the household energy supplier. Applicants are served on a first-come, first serve basis until funding runs out.

Home Weatherization

LIHEAP’s Home Weatherization Program helps to reduce the home energy bills of low-income households by making these homes more energy efficient. The program offers direct household repairs and energy efficient upgrades that increase the energy efficiency of homes.

Applications for the program are accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, contact Community Action for Improvement at 706-884-2651.

The Salvation Army’s Project SHARE

The Salvation Army Newnan provides emergency financial assistance to individuals and families, along with other important services. Project SHARE assists people facing temporary crises and targets urgent needs, such as a utility bill, part of a rent payment or an emergency prescription.

The level of assistance is based on need, available funds and what it takes to resolve the crisis. Most Georgia Electric Membership Corporations, Georgia Power and several natural gas and municipal utilities are eligible.

Applicants must provide proof of identity, residence and eligibility. For more information about how to book an appointment and what to bring, contact The Salvation Army Newnan at 770-251-8181.

Get a Fixed Monthly Bill

Georgia Power’s FlatBill

Georgia Power customers can save on their monthly bill by signing up for FlatBill, a 12-month contracted rate plan in which they’re offered a fixed monthly bill that won’t vary during the year. Customers pay one flat amount, regardless of their usage, and won’t have to worry about rising bills in the winter.

FlatBill is customized and considers the home’s past electricity usage and expected weather for the next 12 months. For more information, visit https://www.georgiapower.com/residential/billing-and-rate-plans/pricing-and-rate-plans/flatbill.html.

Georgia Natural Gas’ Guaranteed Bill Plan 

Georgia Natural Gas offers the Guaranteed Bill Plan. Customers pay the same bill amount every month regardless of changes in weather or natural gas prices. For a limited time, customers can choose between a 12-month plan or a 6-month Winter Guaranteed Bill Plan. There is no settlement or deferred amount to pay at the end of the plan term.

For more information, visit https://gng.com/shop-for-service/guaranteedbill.php#!/ct.

SCANA Energy’s Fixed Rates    

SCANA Energy offers fixed rate plans that allow customers to lock in a rate and have predictable natural gas costs. The fixed therm rate will be guaranteed for the period of time the customer chooses (6, 12, 18, 24 or 36 billing cycles).

For more information, visit https://www.scanaenergy.com/rates-sign-up/residential-rates.

True Natural Gas Fixed Rates

True Natural Gas, part of Coweta-Fayette EMC, has fixed rates per therm as customers can lock in a rate for 12 months and up to 18 months. For information, visit https://utility.org/.

Gas South’s Fixed Rates and OnePrice Plan

Gas South has fixed rates per therm. Customers can lock in a fixed natural gas rate for 6, 12 and 24 months. Also, with the OnePrice Plan, customers make one flat, monthly bill payment. For more information, visit https://www.gassouth.com/rates-plans.

Georgia Power’s Home Energy Efficiency Assistance Program

Georgia Power has a Home Energy Efficiency Assistance Program for customers who qualify based on their income (a household income that is 200 percent or less of the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines). Through the program, eligible customers will be able to make free home energy efficiency improvements that can help save energy and reduce their bill.

If the household is approved to participate in the program, a Georgia Power Energy Assessor will contact the customer with instructions to complete a virtual assessment. Then, at no cost to the customer, a program contractor will come to the home to perform the recommended energy efficiency upgrades.

For more info or to complete an application, visit https://www.georgiapower.com/residential/save-money-and-energy/products-programs/home-energy-efficiency-programs/home-energy-efficiency-assistance-program.html.

Military and Senior Discounts

SCANA Energy

 SCANA Energy offers special fixed and variable residential rates for military service members and senior citizens. To speak with a customer service representative about these discount rates, call 877-467-2262.

 Also, customers 65 and older with an income of $24,280 per year or less are eligible for an additional discount. To apply, visit https://www.scanaenergy.com/docs/librariesprovider2/default-document-library/agl_senior_discount_form.pdf?sfvrsn=8 to download the application.

True Natural Gas

True Natural Gas offers discounts for seniors 65 years-and-older and have a total annual combined household income  of gross income of $25,520 or less. The program is through Atlanta Gas Light. For info, visit https://www.truenaturalgas.com/natural-gas-discounts-for-seniors.

Gas South

Gas South offers senior and military discounts. Seniors over 65 may qualify for a 2 cent per therm discount and a lower customer service fee. The senior discount is available on fixed rate and variable natural gas plans. Eligible seniors will automatically receive this discount when they sign up for service and enter their birthdate. For more information, visit https://www.gassouth.com/rates-plans/senior-rates-and-discounts.

Also, seniors 65 and older with a total annual combined household income of $25,760 or less are eligible for a monthly discount of up to $14 on their Atlanta Gas Light base charge. For more information, visit https://www.atlantagaslight.com/content/dam/southern-co-gas/agl/pdfs/20190_AGL_2021SeniorCitizenDiscountUpdateForEnergyAssistanceMaterials-Factsheet.pdf.

Active military and veterans will get a 2 cent per therm discount on their natural gas rate. The military discount is available on fixed and variable rate plans. Use the code MILITARY when signing up for services. For more info, visit https://www.gassouth.com/rates-plans/military-rates-and-discounts.

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