Energy Wise Wyoming program can help with heating bills
by Governor Freudenthal’s office
August 11, 2008
With natural gas and electricity prices predicted to rise sharply this fall and winter, several state agencies are coming together in a public information campaign to encourage Wyoming residents to do what they can to use less energy. The campaign will also work to raise awareness of the LIEAP program that offers heating bill assistance to state residents.
The Energy Wise Wyoming campaign will encourage residents to conserve energy, to take steps to weatherize their homes and to take advantage of state programs designed to help people with their heating bills.
"The problem is, we can’t bring the price down," said Gov. Dave Freudenthal. "The only thing the average person can do is to try to reduce the amount of natural gas we’re going to use to heat our homes." The Governor said the old adage, ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ applies in this case. "The time to caulk leaky windows and to add insulation is now, not when we get an early snowstorm in October."
Research shows that weatherization - the act of protecting a building and its interior from the elements - can reduce energy consumption between 10 and 50 percent. Efforts range from sophisticated energy audits that pinpoint trouble spots to simple acts like placing plastic over windows and using caulk to seal off leaky door and window frames.
This month the Wyoming Public Service Commission urged people to prepare now for higher heating costs. "We may see some of the largest increases in natural gas prices in years," Deputy Chairman Steve Oxley said. "The good news is that we have ways of fighting back. Energy efficiency is the key."
Starting this month, a coalition of state agencies including the Department of Family Services, the Wyoming Public Service Commission, the State Energy Office, the Governor’s Office and the private non-profit Wyoming Energy Council will distribute weekly news releases on how even simple weatherization steps can reduce energy use and allow consumers more control over their heating bills. Also, the campaign aims to educate the public about existing state programs that can help them get started.
Wyoming’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program is an underutilized tool to offer help to Wyoming residents with winter heating bills. Residents qualify for LIEAP if their income is less than $1,863 a month for an individual, $2,508 for a household of two and $3,798 for a family of four. Administered by the Department of Family Services, LIEAP delivered benefits to about 11,000 applicants last year.
The LIEAP office also processes applications for the Wyoming Weatherization Program that provides free home energy audits and energy efficiency improvements to low income residents. Weatherization contractors first conduct a health and safety check of the home before evaluating the efficiency and safety of the furnace and water heater. Contractors then monitor for drafts and leaks in a home and work to seal them. They also often add insulation to walls, attics and foundations to reduce energy loss and sometimes replace inefficient furnaces and other
"We're expecting the program will serve many more households this winter," said DFS Director Tony Lewis. "Considering the expected cost increases, we've also raised the maximum benefit limit to help cover household heating costs."
Those who don't qualify for LIEAP but want to make energy efficiency improvements at home can find a contractor participating in Home Performance with Energy Star for a comprehensive home assessment that is similar to a Weatherization audit. Residents can contact the Wyoming Energy Council at 307-742-9924 for a list of qualified contractors or visit www.wyominghomeperformance.com and click "Homeowner" for more information.
The State Energy Program at the Wyoming Business Council also offers matching grants for small businesses in Wyoming to get energy audits and to make energy efficiency improvements.
The Energy Wise Wyoming campaign will continue throughout the fall and winter with information about how residents can prepare for and cope with high heating bills.
To learn more about both state and federal weatherization and energy efficiency resources, visit: www.wyoenergy.com, or www.eere.energy.gov.
To learn more about state programs designed to help residents with their winter heating bills, visit www.lieap.state.wy.us or visit the issue spotlight on the Governor’s Web site: http://governor.wy.gov.