Friday, November 16 , 2018, 8:54 am | Fair 55º

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Home Heating Help Available for Low-Income Seniors, Families

Community Action Commission can assist with payments and weatherization for qualifying households

Seniors and families in Santa Barbara County who qualify can receive utility payment assistance, home weatherization and safety testing and repair or replacement on key home appliances. This aid is provided at no charge to qualifying households and is especially timely given relatively high fuel prices and continued cold temperatures.

“With a sluggish economy and many people out of work, seniors and low-income families are having a hard time making ends meet this year,” said Mike Culbertson, Energy Services director for the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County. “We would like to let these folks know that they may qualify for assistance with home heating and weatherization to keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the warmer months.”

Eighteen percent of the Santa Barbara County population lives under the U.S. poverty level. Almost 10 percent of this population are seniors, most of whom are living well below the poverty level of $15,200 for one person per household.

With home heating fuel costs rising this winter, hundreds of seniors will be dialing down their heat to save money. For most people, dialing down just means a slightly chilly home, but especially for the elderly, it could bring serious health implications, including hypothermia, and could even lead to additional health risk for otherwise healthy people. Dialing down the thermostat for dollars is a high risk for seniors.

“The services that CAC Energy provide are excellent,” said Carl Lorenz, a senior Santa Barbara County resident. “From the outreach worker who determined our eligibility to the crew that did the installation, everyone was polite and thorough as could be. They followed through with everything and did more for us than we thought they would. We are very grateful for their assistance.”

CAC Energy Services includes things such as providing water-saving devices, caulking and weather-stripping, gas appliance and repair, and water heater blankets. Safety measures include providing carbon monoxide (CO) testing to make sure detectors are in good working condition and providing detectors to households that do not already have them. In December 2012, all homes and apartments must be installed with properly functioning CO monitors, as mandated by California Senate Bill 183.

“The process to gain assistance in making your home warm and safe is simple,” Energy Services coordinator Michael Daly said. “Anyone interested must contact the CAC Energy office and they will ask a few questions to assess if you qualify. The process usually takes anywhere from four to six weeks depending on the current market demands.”

“All eligible Santa Barbara County households are encouraged to apply for assistance,” Culbertson said. “The federal and local governments have made the necessary adjustments to deal with this season’s anticipated participation in these home safety and heating programs and CAC is prepared to meet the needs of our residents.”

For more information on the home safety, energy assistance and heating programs in Santa Barbara County, call the CAC Energy Services Department at 800.655.0617.

— Tami Snow represents Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County.

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