MEDIA CONTACT:  Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J. -
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes is reminding residents that assistance is available for energy costs for those who qualify, and applications will be accepted until the end of April, 2011.

The County’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) allows individuals meeting various income qualifications to apply for bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, and energy-related home repairs.

“For many households, winter brings worry about the cost of heating and other energy bills,” said Hughes. “I also urge our residents to look into simple ways they can reduce their energy costs such as using fluorescent light bulbs and weather-stripping doors and windows.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently reported that on average, heating bills will increase slightly this winter compared to last year. EIA expects households heating primarily with heating oil to spend an average of about $220 (12 percent) more this winter than last winter, while households heating primarily with natural gas are expected spend an average of $27 (4 percent) more this winter. However, homes heating primarily with electricity can expect to spend an average of $18 (2 percent) less.

However, the EIA also cautioned that fuel expenditures for individual households are highly dependent on local weather conditions, the size and efficiency of individual homes and their heating equipment, and thermostat settings.

Individuals meeting various income qualifications can apply for bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, and energy-related home repairs. Last year’s clients can expect to receive applications from the Mercer County Housing and Community Development Office during the first two weeks of November. New clients, as well as returning clients, can contact the Office at (609) 989-6858 or 989-6959. Monies are from the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Department of Health and Human Services, and funding levels are established annually. The program runs from November 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011. Information on the LIHEAP program is also available at all nine branches of the Mercer County Library System.