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Posted on: October 24, 2022

Winter Heating Tips

Winter Heating tips

While temperatures are dropping in Madison County, heating costs will be going up.  

For the 2022-23 winter season, electric and natural gas bills are expected to be higher on average, even more than this past year. An average residential electric customer using 600 kWh of electricity per month is expected to pay about $75 per month for supply. Natural gas bills are projected to be about 29% higher. The average residential natural gas customer, using 732 therms of natural gas from November through March, is expected to pay about $1201 in total for gas supply. According to NYS the gas increase is mostly attributed to an increase in natural gas supply prices and anticipated higher usage due to potential colder weather. 

Madison County wants our residents to know that we hear you and feel your pain when it comes to this news.  We want to make sure you are equipped with tips for lowering the cost and information about possible assistance. Please keep reading the below and you can also check out the New York State Winter Preparedness site at https://www3.dps.ny.gov/.

 Tips to cut down on heating costs:

  • Take advantage of heat from the sun.  Open curtains to allow the sun to naturally heat the home.
  • If you have drafty windows and are not able to replace them, cover drafty windows by taping a heavy-duty plastic sheet on the inside of the window frames during the cold months. 
  • When you are home and awake, set the thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • When you are asleep or out of the house, turn the thermostat down.   But make sure the temperature is comfortable for pets!
  • Schedule routine service for home heating systems.
  • Replace furnace and heat pump filters once a month or as needed. Find out more about maintaining furnaces or boilers and heat pumps.

 HEAP Benefit

The 2022-2023 Regular HEAP benefit is scheduled to open on November 1, 2022. Beginning November 1, households can apply in person at our Social Services Office or mail-in applications. HEAP applications can also be submitted online at mybenefits.ny.gov. If you have questions please contact the Madison County Department of Social Services HEAP office at 315-366-2211. Residents who are 55-years or older can also contact the Madison County Office for the Aging at 315-697-5700 for assistance with applying. 

The 2022-2023 HEAP income guidelines for Madison County residents can be found here: https://www.madisoncounty.ny.gov/291/HEAP-Regular-Benefit 

HEAP benefit amounts have increased this year to assist with the rising heating costs. The base benefit for eligible households that heat with oil, kerosene, or propane is $900. The base benefit for those that heat with coal, pellets, or wood is $635. The base benefit for natural gas or electric heat is $400. 

Emergency HEAP is scheduled to open on January 3, 2023 and can assist households experiencing a heat or heat related emergency. Eligibility for Emergency HEAP is based on a household’s income and available resources. More information about the HEAP program can be found at Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) | OTDA (ny.gov).

New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers a weatherization program which is a great resource for households as it can assist with reducing their energy bills. Households can apply online at https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/ahp-empower. Stoneleigh Housing, Inc. in Canastota also has a weatherization program and can be contacted at 315-697-3737 for details. 

during the 2021-2022 HEAP season 3,103 households in Madison County were issued a Regular HEAP benefit to assist with their heating costs. While during the 2020-2021 HEAP season 3,151 households were issued a Regular HEAP benefits. 

Please remember to be safe when you are heating your home:

  • If you are using a fireplace or woodstove:

-              Make sure it is inspected and the pipes and chimneys are cleaned annually.  Check often for any damage or obstructions.
-              Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
-              Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving your house or going to bed.

  • If you have a portable space heater:

-              Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from the portable heating device (this includes clothes, curtains, and other items)
-              Only buy heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
-              Check to make sure the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
-              Check wires for any fraying and do not overload outlets or surge protectors.  

  • And please remember: 

-              Never use a stove range or oven to heat your home. 
-              Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
- Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors and should only be refueled outdoors and in well ventilated areas

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